They say your 30’s will be the true coming of age. It’s a time where you learn to command your life much differently because your lived experiences has made you more in tune with who you are.
In my 20’s I lived so recklessly that I accepted the idea of living fast & dying young. I was surrounded by a destructive world where I lost friends to the streets, substance abuse, mental illness & dangerous lifestyles.
I started to silence my emotions and numb my feelings until I fell down the rabbit hole too. I couldn’t imagine making it to 30 with the way I was living so instead I just lived like today was my last.
I remember reading a piece by Nic Haralambous called advice from 30 year old me to 20 year old me & it made me think about the conversation I would want to have with myself. When a my brother in hustle Hamza Khan wrote & quoted me in his coming of age piece 27 things I learned at 27, I was reminded how life lessons can transcend from one person to another.
A year ago when I turned 29 & I wrote a post on my birthday to share the lessons that I’ve learned from my journey. Without a doubt it was only in my late 20’s after switching my game up, that my understanding of living life to its fullest had actually changed for the better.
Today I turn 30 and I’ll be flying back overseas to continue chasing my vision of becoming an international visual artist & change maker. So it was only fitting that I share some hard knock reflections & lessons from my twenties.
Life is short, make every moment count!
I know it sounds cliché but I lived like life was short, so I told myself that I had to make every moment count while I was here. In my early 20’s this usually felt more like selfishly living for today instead of appreciating the beauty of having a tomorrow.
It was only in my very late 20’s that I finally started making sense of the different circles of thinking I gained from my life experiences around the world. I learned to no longer carry the weight of my past as something that was negative. Instead I accepted it as something that revealed whom I was destined to be.
I started appreciating how my struggle allowed me to live and think differently from others. Making it through hard times gave me more reason to celebrate & appreciate the life I was given.
I aspired to live better by chasing experiences instead of money & the celebrations… well.. while it usually involved more drunken nights than I would like to count but it made me realize that I was still learning how to deal with the demons that I picked up along the way.
As I end my 20’s I’m finding ways to retire from that rockstar life that I’ve know so well by seeking more mental clarity versus the drowning of past pains.
Despite the care free attitude, what has made my life count the most was constantly re-defining what this life meant to me. I’ve learned to develop more healthier habits that have given me more peace over the years & I’ve accepted my past as reason for who I am today.
Yes life does feel short when you have been living it a certain way and yes it can get hard & quite sad at times. However you start to learn how to appreciate the people around that have taught you lessons both good and bad. There is value in the struggle & I’ve learned to move away from being a victim in order to start being a game-changer.
I’ll share this quote from someone I knew who was a recovered alcoholic.
There are no such thing as bad days, there are only bad moments in a day. Don’t let the bad moments make your entire day go bad.
What truly makes the our time count are the moments we strived to do better than before.
I challenge you to define what life truly means to you & spend the next decade of my time here in this world, making that life happen. This is something I’ve committed to myself for my 30’s
Whatever you want to do, just start now!
How many times have you told yourself, that you wish you could do something like travel? Or how many times have you waited for new year’s to make a resolution about something that affects your life now like quitting smoking or getting physically fit?
Why do we wait for later if we can just start now?
I’ve taken a page from Robin Sharma piece on the 2 greatest words. This notion of chasing your dreams by acting on the idea of “just starting” really resonated with me. It’s a lesson I’ve been always believed in but only started practicing since leaving my full time career last year, in order to focus on the things I’ve always wanted to do.
Nothing happens unless you move
For me movement is life. In my 20’s I started fighting complacency by constantly challenging myself to do the things that added value to the world. Traveling the world at a young age and seeing the good, bad & ugly realities only pushed me in wanting to be part of the change that was needed. I dreamed about it for years.
Realize that you can only spend so much time dreaming and wishing for before those thoughts gets lost in the noise and chaos of reality. The longer you wait to take something on, the longer it will take you to get there.
In my 20’s I made a transition from a damaging life, living and breathing the streets to a professional career where I was helping others find their way. If I did not take this dive to make changes in my life at that point, then I never would have.
It was not an easy transition at all & I struggled with those two changing identities for years but as I continued to start working towards my future, I started to accomplish my life’s worth.
Even during my current reinvention where I’m starting to work towards my dreams of doing international development & humanitarian work, I first had to fight complacency to not give up on that dream in exchange for settling with the stability & security that could have been offered at home.
It’s not that I wasn’t content with what I had, It’s that I knew that after making it off the streets that I was destined for more.
Today I’m traveling the world as a change maker and visual artist because it’s what I’ve started dreaming about doing in life & it’s what I’ve decided to just start working towards. Remember I’m not saying it’s easy because if it was, then everyone would be doing it & hard knock leaders are not everybody.
Our lives change forever when we aspire to live our dreams. When we change our lives, we change our world forever. When we change our world forever, we inevitably change the world of others too.
I challenge you to start on the life goals you’ve been dreaming about right now. My 30’s will already be changed since committing myself to start living my dreams every single day.
Don’t let the music die in you!
Without a doubt, my life has changed dramatically since deciding that I was destined to accomplish more. It would always mean living outside my comfort zone in some way, such as entering into neighbourhoods that I once saw as territorial divides to living on the road for the upcoming years instead of settling down with the norm of what everyone else was doing around me.
It’s not that there is anything wrong in looking for a steady career & financial security. It’s when you choose to settle with something & let the music die in you, that’s when there is a problem. I’ve seen too many people who are willing to be unhappy with their jobs and do nothing about it by letting that work kill them softly.
Now if you have a job be thankful, because there is a million others who would be willing to take it. Just realize that the music dies in us when the job we do takes us away from our reasons to be great & do amazing things.
When we are at the top of our game, we are like maestro’s commanding the symphony of our life. However when we choose to be average, we give away our talents. When we give up on the talents we’ve earned, the music starts to die in us.
This may sound harsh but at the age of 30 I’m no longer okay with being average. If I wanted an average life, I would’ve settled as street dealer chasing paper till my death or as a cubicle monkey pushing paper for someone else’s resume.
No disrespect to anyone who is putting in work for survival but take a moment and ask yourself if you are you currently happy OR if are you currently being the best version of yourself? If the answer is NO to both of these questions then you’re probably fallen into the box of mediocrity where the world is constantly being programmed to deliver the message that average is acceptable.
You can spend your 20’s trying to learn from the great’s in order to master your craft. By your 30’s it’s time to focus on to being the greatest by becoming the the master. Not there yet? Well just start because all masters had to be beginners at some point.
Whatever you decide to do & whenever you decide to do it, make sure it world class. The reality is that there are more sad stories in the world then there are happy ones. People will die at the age of 30 and only get buried 60, don’t let the graveyard be where your dreams finally go to rest.
I challenge you to make your life a happy one regardless of the difficulties you’ve faced & the ones you will continue to face. In my 30’s the struggle will only fuel my growth as hard knock leader.
This journey is the one you’re suppose to be on.
Can there be a guarantee that work we commit to right now will lead us to where we want to be in the future? Are we ever sure the dream we are chasing is even right for us?
If we had all the answers then there would be no journey. There is no guarantee for success, there is only the will to never give up on it. Those who do journey, know that if that if they don’t take this road, it would only lead to regrets.
Most give it up on that journey because of uncertainty. Most give up from the fear of failure.
On every journey someone will hit their lowest low. What reveals our strength is our ability to bounce back from that failure. To bounce back we must accept the journey we are suppose to be on & remove doubt & fear.
I’ll share the words of a brother & mentor who has guided me in the arts, when he was asked about his own journey in life
I’ve come to the realization that life is made up of a billion deep breaths & that’s why I always say to be happy, smile & breath deeply because this is the journey that you’re suppose to be on.
As you grow older you learn to trust yourself more to keep heading down on that journey because you know it was meant for you. You slowly start to learn how to be at peace with who you’ve become & leave behind the person that others expect you to be. You breathe more accepting that YES this is the journey that I’m suppose to be on.
When we find peace with the journey that we are on, the road ahead becomes a beautiful part of growth in the life we have. We start to take control destiny and show up stronger for our final curtain call.
At times our identity may feel conflicted from the environments we grew up around, to the different hardships & struggles we have endured. However life is dealt to us, it should never stop us from making the extraordinary happen.
I challenge you to keep believing in yourself & the journey that you are on, no matter how hard it gets. I hope to look back in my 40’s someday & acknowledge that this is what set my life apart from everything else I was doing.
Thank you for taking the time to read this personal reflection. Feel free to share your comments or recommend to others if you see value in these words.
1love the kid
Note from the author:
I’m going to be disconnecting by getting off the grid for the next bit of my journey as I make a move overseas to Australia & focus on creating new works.
If you’re interested in having Hard Knock Leadership be a catalyst to your community building efforts then drop a line:
As I head back on the overseas for 2016 I want to thank everyone who has been following my journey and supporting me along the way. Stay Inspired Always.