On a recent visit to New York I was inspired by the number of small businesses I passed. It's one of my favorite things about cities-- the suburbs seem to belong largely to the Barnes & Noble, Walmart and Targets of the world-- while cities thrive on small business owners. I stayed in TriBeCa which is particularly peppered with tiny shops for every type of purveyor. Small art galleries abound, little eateries swarming with adorability are on every corner. Boutique clothing stores (some even with the design/sewing room in the back!), Mom & Pop hardware shops, pizza parlors, antiquarian spots and privately owned book stores are bound to appear at any given moment as you walk through town.
I was having a particularly pensive and discouraging day, but found my spirits lifted seeing all the little (and big) dreams of people, just like you and me, being fulfilled. Someone took out a loan to open that art gallery in SoHo. Someone worked their ass off saving up to afford to start that little espresso shop. Someone borrowed money from their parents and friends and made their dream of opening a specialty book shop a reality.
These people make me feel like a massive under-achiever.
Don't laugh. I know you think, because the nature of my work, that I am successful and accomplished… but the truth is-- very few of my dreams and aspirations have seen the light of day. Very few. Due to a number of "there-are-no-guarantees-in-life" circumstances, I find myself in the same position I was 10 years ago… only without the opportunity and wide-eyed optimism that accompanies a 20 year old.
Good on you! to all the young folks out there who had/have the foresight (or take the good advice) to not just seize opportunity, but turn it into another opportunity. The lack of ability to see the necessity of this is one reason why the saying goes "youth is wasted on the young." We can be so caught up in the joy and ease of opportunity that we think that simply being offered a chance at our dream equals success.
The truth is-- everyone is offered opportunity in some form or other. The offer is nothing more than simply that-- an offer. You must EARN the right to success or it will fall from beneath your feet the moment someone else comes along who does earn it. You must earn your next opportunity and, in fact, many times it will be up to you to create it!
Dream big, work hard, and flee from a sense of entitlement like the plague! When you achieve success enjoy it and be proud of yourself! Then turn around, get the mop and go clean your own bathroom-- just to make sure you remember how.