As I get older, sometimes I stop and think about the many things I’ve experienced in my life. I ask myself what I could have done better, what I could have learned from, and even sometimes, when I’m feeling really pensive, I think about the man I should have been.
I consider the people that I have met, the people that I’ve offended, forgotten about, and ignored. I also think about the people I’ve hopefully influenced and the people I’ve helped. But most importantly, I think about the people that have helped me.
I think about my times in university and the extra direction I needed in life. I think about my growing up and travels abroad and the patience that others afforded me. And I think about how others have inconvenienced themselves for me to be where I am today. And in these moments, I find gratitude. Gratitude not because of what I’ve done, or what people have done for me, but gratitude in what I will now do for others.
I recently met with a client I helped two years ago. Tim, currently a senior in university, was in New York City for a job interview and had texted me earlier in the week to see if I had time to catch up. In our conversations Tim had shared his frustrations about his impending job hunt, his constant struggles with confidence, and his life’s direction. Tim was worried about a lot of things. He worried about finances and student loans, his career, and whether he’d get a job after graduation. And as I calmly explained to him that his feelings of anxiety and uncertainty were normal for a soon-to-be fresh college grad, Tim slowly calmed his nerves; he had accepted that all these feelings were part of the process of growing up. And once he had gathered himself, Tim shared with me all the great things that were happening in his life. His busy social life in college, his feuds with his roommates, and how his family was doing in Asia; we were finally able to enjoy a drink together!
When it was time for us to depart, I asked Tim what plans he had for the rest of the night. Tim mentioned that he’d likely walk around the city with some new friends that were also in town for the interview. I asked them where they were going for dinner, if they were going to grab drinks, if they were going to enjoy the city; to which Tim said he and his new friends couldn’t afford a big night in the city. And so we bid each other farewell and good fortune, and as he came to shake my hand firmly as I had coached him to do in our sessions together, I slipped him some cash, and told him to enjoy the city.
The next morning, I received a text message from Tim. It read: “thanks for the extra cash and for hearing me out, you are a great mentor and I’m lucky to call you a friend!”
You see, as I have gotten older I have come to believe that the only thing that truly brings happiness and joy is to help people. And in my realization I’ve decided that I want to be the person I needed when I was younger. I want to be the person that opened doors for others, the person that gave someone a leg up in life, and I wanted to provide the head start; and I will.
I’m sure all of us would say that it would’ve been nice if someone went out of his or her way to help us when we needed it most. And how you decide to help others is entirely up to you but I implore you to take this advice: be the person that the younger you needed.