Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Letters to a young man 25

Hello my friend.

I have been thinking over your situation. For starters, I am sorry to hear about your breakup. I'm sure there was emotional investment and this kind of thing is never easy to deal with and I can understand your ire at the situation.

Firstly, I recommend that you try not communicating with her, especially in your current state. I can see that no good will come of it. This is of course easy for me to say, as I'm removed from the situation. However, judging from my life experience I can say that you'd be better off staying away from confronting her in any way. As you said yourself, it's over.

Also, there's nothing to be embarrassed about. I would say that every man has dealt with such a thing, and I'm no exception. Sometimes we see what we want to see in people, and overlook obvious clues that something isn't quite right. Again, I know this from personal experience.

The hardest lesson in all of this, perhaps, is that you'll have to accept those feelings. You'll have to accept that maybe you were wronged, and maybe you were duped. I have a good personal friend who's dealing with just this same type of thing right now, in fact. I've asked him these questions, and I'll ask you,

So what if it's true that she duped you? What would that mean to you? What would that tell you about yourself?

My point in asking these questions is to get you to reflect on them fully. The point I hope you will arrive at is that everyone, even the smartest, boldest, strongest men, has been duped and wronged. It shouldn't take anything away from who you are. Whether or not it does, is ultimately up to you. This is where your power lies. It's something that no one can take away from you, nor give to you.

Believe me, I know it is easy to say and harder to put into practice. But this is only so because men try to force something out, rather than let something remain within.

It hurts, and it will hurt. I think you can make great strides forward if you embrace it, feel it fully, and them move forward. I know that's maybe not comforting, and it would be nice if I could offer a panacea, but I think we both know that's not possible, nor in the long run even desirable.

Going forward, you may start to look back on the relationship and see things you didn't see before. There's no need to beat yourself up over them, though that is commonly what men do, but you can certainly learn from them. Consider that at the very least, as you go forward you will have your eyes opened and will likely see things differently in the future.

Finally, regarding your concern that you may see her again when school resumes. My guess is that by the end of Summer you'll feel much less anxiety about running into her. Over time, you'll probably see her flaws more and that will make it easier to deal with knowledge of her being with other guys. For now, you might try to put it out of your mind. An alternative might be to think about it fully so that you embrace the rage/bitterness/pain of those feelings so that you can put them down and not be affected by it any more.

I hope this finds you well, and that it in some way has been helpful.

Farewell for now.

My book on stoicism.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Letters to a young man 24

Hello my friend. I appreciate your kind words about my book and want you to know that I've thought carefully about your letter. It is indeed a difficult place you find yourself in, to have put so much effort into your creative endeavor only to find the world is less than interested or supportive in what you're doing. I know this is hard, for I've experienced this myself in life. Though you may not find this much of a comfort, I have some words that I hope you will think on. They are,

The world is full of people who judge themselves based on other people's opinions. Don't be one of them.

I wish that I could change people's minds and perspectives, to bend them for a moment away from their concerns and convince them to give you and your work the attention it deserves. However, we both know that this is not possible. In fact, you should be glad that I cannot do this. Why? Because the strength you'll gain from this adversity will temper you and make you stronger for any further insults that are hurled your way.

It took me many years, frustrations, and let downs, to finally understand that being happy with my own endeavors and the enjoyment of achieving them is what counts. You are the person that has to live with yourself every day. Imagine that you had a hit song, or a best-selling book. What then? What about the days when you have no ideas, when there's no work to be done, and what happens when the initial rush and spotlight have passed? If you cultivate good work habits and learn to enjoy the process itself without worrying about any rewards that may or may not come, you will always be the master of your fate. Yes, the world will sometimes kick you in the side, and spit on you, but it may also be kind to you. The point is that you should focus on what you're doing with your time, and not concern yourself too much about what the world brings your way.

All things move towards their end. All things gravitate towards the middle, the average. Some days luck finds you on one side, on some days, the other. Don't take it too personally.

My book on stoicism.