Some guy is selling his Law Degree from Prestigious University X on Craigslist (thanks Ben for sharing):
This priceless collectible will permit you to be surrounded by hobby-less assholes whose entire life is dictated by billing by the hour and being anal dickheads. Additionally, this piece of paper has the amazing ability to keep you from doing what you really want to do in life, all in the name of purported prestige and financial success. Finally, girls in the Marina will swoon with retarded thoughts of sugar daddy when they hear you went to XXX prestigious law school and are a lawyer.
It’s a tragedy when remarkable people realize they are remarkable too late.
This case proves the sad reality that has struck me recently:
Context trumps individuality.
The reason an out-of-the-box thinker and ambitious person may follow a traditional and less fulfilling path is because either a) the societal pressure is too strong to avoid, or b) the context lacks the tools, means and support to exploit that capacity.
The reason I relate to this lawyer, is that we both realized too late that with a different context and more support for our ambitions, we would have gotten further. I will always wonder where I would be if I would have been born in the US, or at least, in another first world country that had similar intellectual opportunities.
For example, when I think of Colin Wright or Ben Casnocha, friends that have achieved much more than I did so far, I feel that I lost the race. Not the race with them (although I am competitive), but the race with myself had I had their context.
The obvious response is that things couldn’t have happened in any other way and that I wouldn’t have realized this if I hadn’t been through what I did. While true, the possibilities that escaped me since day one (and still do) are too many to be ignored in a flat world.
Another harsh realization of late awareness is the need to lower my expectations. While others were taking advantage of the entrepreneurial culture and taking unconventional paths, I spent most of my life realizing that there was such a thing as an entrepreneurial culture and an unconventional path.
While others were doing, I was catching up. I’m way behind on the path that society considers successful.
And there are real barriers, such as language, visa requirements and currency exchange, to name a few. While not impossible to overcome, they are permanent weights that slow down anyone that has to deal with them.
The hardest truth is this: The world doesn’t give a crap about what I’ve done so far. The world wants start-ups, Fortune 500 corporate experience and world traveling knowledge. It doesn’t care about self-realizations and unconventional personal philosophies, however hard it was to reach them.
This is not a regret. It’s coming to terms with reality. It’s what every ambitious person who lacks a supportive context has to understand:
My definition of success has to be unique and personal, because it will never match the world’s.