That you're alone on this Earth.
When I was 23 years old, I graduated college, worked for my father for about a year and then packed up my car and moved roughly 1,000 miles away from Chicago to Boston.
I had never visited Boston before. I was going to move in with a friend of mine, try to find a job and ultimately build a life for myself.
My father opted to help me with the drive. We spent 2 days on the road together. We talked about a bunch of stuff:
Stories I had from college.
Stories he had from his youth.
Stories of his victories.
Stories of his failures.
How proud he was of me.
One piece of advice he bestowed upon me has clear-as-day stayed with me now eight years later:
“You're alone on this Earth. You have me and your mother. We will be here for you more so than anyone. You then have your brother and sister. You will probably find a life partner. You will have the illusion that they are with you and that your close friends are with you. The truth of the matter is you are the only one in that head of yours. You have to determine what you want and who you want to be. Only you.” -My Father.
At first, it seemed like the most depressing thing I had ever heard.
I couldn't imagine this guy, the guy I hold above all other people in my life, saying that.
The guy who I aspire to build my character to mirror.
The guy that gave me everything I wanted as a child.
The guy that loved his family unconditionally could say something like this.
I thought to myself, he's lying. I have friends that will be there for me thick and thin. I have a network of people that support me and care for me.
I meditated on his advice for a few days.
What he was talking about began to marinate. I knew exactly what he was talking about.
It was the most liberating thing I had ever heard:
"I am alone.”
I felt free in that moment. No one but me was going to be living in this head for the rest of my life.
No one was going to follow what truly makes me happy, but me.
No one was going to challenge myself hard enough to learn what I wanted to learn, but me.
No one was going to put myself out there to share love with a woman, but me.
No one was going to be hurt by women in my life and have the opportunity to learn from those scars quite like me.
No one was going to go into an interview in my place in order to secure employment, like me.
No one was going to get fired (like I ultimately did) and learn from that experience, like me.
I was alone. This is my life. No one else's.
I was free to be me.
I have never forgotten what my father said that day and I never will. When I feel down, I know that I am the sole catalyst in getting myself “back.” When I want to learn something I know that it’s within my power to get out and learn it. When I want to write and create, I know that I have no one else that will do the work for me.
I work on myself and live my life so I can help build the community around me.
You're the only person that is going to be in that head.
Every night before you go to sleep—just before you settle off into the dream-state.
Every morning when you wake up. Just before you enter the world to meet its demands.
What are you going to do with that freedom?