It’s funny how adulthood doesn’t always turn out the way that you planned as a kid. I remember having a grand vision for my life as a kid that included doing what I wanted when I wanted to. Each birthday was a year closer to being 18 which was the magic number in my mind where I would suddenly emancipate from the endless rules of my parents. One perk of having a non-traditional education meant that i had a little more time than most my age. After finishing high school a few weeks after I turned 17 I decided that I wanted to take a break so I did. For the next year I chilled at home and took community college classes with the intention to hit the ground running when I began college. The great thing about that year was that I could collect my thoughts with minimal responsibilities. During that time I sold books door to door and even sold knives. I know a lot of people who went directly from high school to college and still had no idea what they wanted to do with their life. They go through a year or two and drift from major to major spending large amounts of money they don’t really have. The thing about young adulthood is that you expect to have more answers than you did as a kid when in fact you just encounter more questions. You want the world to be black and white but sometimes it ends up being a really weird shade of gray. The thing I like about being an adult is that it was similar to what I imagined as a kid. I do what I want, when I want. The sad part is that there are also hundreds of stipulations to that simple fact. The stakes are higher, the consequences for stupid mistakes can easily wreck the future. It’s similar to driving in a fog on a dark night. You know where you’re going but still can’t see five feet ahead of you and your headlights just illuminate how much more fog is ahead.
Recently I was talking to a friend of mine who has a fairly successful consulting business and we were discussing marketing strategies. I asked him about doing more mainstream advertising in order to gain more visibility in the local area—an idea that he quickly shut down. I asked him his reason and he told me that he wanted to be able to control who he works with. Hence, he wanted to be able to be picky with the clients he chooses to help. And then, in typical friend fashion, he proceeded to tell me about how I was exclusive as well. I think that part of human nature is to surround ourselves with people who share common interests with us. We belong to groups of people who look the same way as us, do the same things as us, and think the same way that we do. Doing this isolates us with our own kind and tends to make us exclusive in our little groups. You can’t really get more exclusive than growing up homeschooled. Your peers are your siblings and the only clique that exists is the one that you make. My entire high school experience consisted of doing homework on my bed with my dog beside me. To top it off, after high school I went to a small private school for college which was a small subculture in itself. The majority of the students, faculty, and administrators adhered (or at least claimed) to a certain set of beliefs that were very unique and also very distinguishable when compared to the mainstream typical college culture. The uniqueness of this environment lent itself to an attitude of exclusiveness because of the beliefs and practices that set the whole school apart from thousands of others. We have tons of inside jokes that would make absolutely no sense to anyone who has not been exposed to the school, its beliefs, or the accompanying subculture. All this being said, exclusiveness exists everywhere. Life consists of socialization and relationships with various people in groups. Point blank. But it’s also important to take time out to get out of our own little bubble and meet people who aren’t like us. Instead of hanging with people who we identify with, we need to take the time to talk to people who we want to identify with one day. A wise person once said to hang with people who have your solution and not your problems. Being exclusive may work for a while and it may even be to your benefit at times, but at the end of the day you separate yourself from people and experiences that could be opportunities to grow.