Mary Vidaurri

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How do you balance living practically, with reaching for your dreams? How much does material gain matter, realistically?

As a teenager, there aren't many people within my age group willing to discuss life’s dilemmas outside of drama unfolding on FB, resulting in mental asphyxiation.
I've got my whole, too brief life, stretched out before me, and the sheer stunningness of my own mortality leads me to question the path my life will lead, and the "real" world impact of my decisions.
I want life and every word to the extent that it's absurd. I want to take every opportunity to travel, and fully experience life, even if it means I don't have much in material wealth. I don't mind hardship, I've lived with it. As long as I have enough for food and healthcare I'm fine. (This plan definitely includes college:)
Yet my family and culture pushes me in the direction of "traditional success" which consists of a job paying big bucks, a shiny new car, big house, two kids, and a dog. The American Dream, for a latina in a migrant family. This is seen as climbing up the ladder, it's a practical, comfortable lifestyle. A wise choice many would say and well within my grasp.
So I guess, after all that backstory, I want to hear what really matters once you've well advanced through life? Do you wish you'd taken the leap, or treasure the security of your life?
I don't know, I'm only 16, so I'd love to hear any advice, or common regrets.
and I hope this doesn't sound like typical teen angst, straight out of Catcher in the Rye:)

  • Jul 13 2013: I remember wondering about the life's questions when I was about your age. Let me give some feedback from experience of the 25 to 30 years I gained since.

    But first of all thank you Arkady with these little pearls of wisdom and the very recognizable situations with kids, loved it!

    The American dream is total bullshit for most, an incentive to keep the everyone productive and on the treadmill. The decline of the middle class will make that even more clear. Also stuff is just stuff, it doesn't make you happy, but it sucks up time and money (as Arkady pointed out) If you think of the highlights of your life it never involves stuff but people or achievements (at least for me). The more stuff you've got the less time you have to live your life in any meaningful sense. Stuff also leads to debt, and debt is the end of your independence or to live your life the way you want it.

    However, I see no reason not to invest in your own independence or development. So please do study. But study broadly, try to take in as much as possible, it never hurts do some courses which could be useful in any job.

    Also, go travel. Please do go travel. No tourism trips, just backpacking on a limited budget. That will change your outlook for sure. You will learn about your own culture and yourself. I have travelled for about 2 years all over the world and that is the one thing I never regret.
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      Jul 14 2013: Hi Peter,
      I remember wondering about life's questions when I was young, and I still ponder....apparently most of us have many of the same questions?

      Let me reinforce your feedback from the experience of 60+ years, and I agree with you that Arkady has all kinds of "little pearls of wisdom":>)

      Whatever the "dream" is, it seems to work out better when it is our own. We can take in information from various sources...parents, friends, society in general...sift through the information and form our personal "dream".

      I agree with you that "stuff is just stuff". Unfortunately, your description of the "dream" is very real to some folks. I observe lots of people working long and hard so they can have "stuff", and there is no time to actually enjoy the "stuff". Like you say...the more stuff you've got the less time you have to really live life in a meaningful way.

      I love your advise to "take in as much as possible", and travel seems always to be a wonderful way to open the mind and heart to learn about ourselves, as well as other cultures. I believe life is an exploration.....a wonderful adventure in which we have all kinds of opportunities to learn, grow and evolve:>)
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      Jul 14 2013: Does raking risky initiatives and actions and life decisions count too?
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        Jul 14 2013: In my humble perception Simon, whatever we want to count.....counts.....we have many choices:>)
      • Jul 14 2013: Life is risky Simon. Safest would be to stay in bed all day, but it would be a very boring life. I would never advice anyone such a thing.
  • Jul 11 2013: I fully understand your situation. I was in the same place many years ago.

    I had friends who traveled the rails jumping on & off moving freight trains, lived with out electricity and water in abandoned buildings, dumpster dived for food. these were (i believe) romantic attempts to not being or becoming "the man" or "selling out". I was with them for a bit and must say, it's a rough life.
    i came to a point (at 21) when I had to decide. there was a clear fork in the road, continue playing music & working at a "job" or decide to fully commit to college and a "career". I was not in any way financially blessed (I had to raise money to pay my full tuition, rent and all).

    I thought about how I would be living 5years or even a year down the road, I played out both possible options realistically and settled on college. what was the worst thing that could happen, I would be educated and have worked hard for that education.
    I did just that.
    in college I met a bunch of like minded people, including my partner, now of 16 years. we have grown up together and in alignment with each other, we live every day as if it may be our last and enjoy it as much as possible.
    we have traveled. we have had adventures. some of the best times have been on random everyday outings.

    I know you do not NEED material things to BE happy. However when you are able to pay for your food/ rent/ ect. it makes it a bit easier to be carefree-ish. Moderation is the key. if you go to the extreme on either side, you loose. not enough work/ $$ you will spend most of your time trying to eat & stay warm. too much $$ means you have spent too much of time at work instead of developing your personal life/ interests..

    all in all it's a good idea to "work to LIVE, instead of Live to work" as well as keeping a young spirit and taking joy in everyday.
    your future is not some momentous thing that happens one day. it's a day by day thing that you build day by day. keep your actions in alignment with your heart.
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      Jul 13 2013: Thanks, especially for your sharing your experience on "romantic attempts to not being or becoming "the man" or "selling out". I thrift-shop for all my clothes, and buy organic produce as often as possible (which lead to a short-lived attempt at being vegetarian) among many other lifestyle decisions to not "sell out", though I've never gone renegade.

      At the same time I'll be completing my associates degree before I graduate from high school, ironically. Pretty soon I'll be applying to a pharmacy program at the local university -or- heading out of state for an English major (NY!)

      Thanks again for your advice, I'll definitely keep it in mind as I make my decision:)
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    Jul 15 2013: Questions that have been bothering me ever since I've been working on the personal statementIs life as linear as "get good grades-> go into a good university-> get a good job"? Money is important to get you the necessities, but does it give you temporary pleasures or make you fundamentally happy (studies suggest the first)? I don't want to be a slave to money , but should i spend most of my life for monetary incentives and monthly salaries only or should i do something that is meaningful for me?Andrew Carnegie ran a steel company without knowing much abt steel , so as henry ford with cars (let me assert that these are not isolated cases) , do I need to go in depth , or only learn a few things that I need to know when it comes to technical stuff? I prefer jobs that are heuristic , not algorithmic(one in which you follow a set of estabished instructions). I've always been interested in soft skills , art of public speaking and bits of psycology concerning human behaviors ( I think they call it behavorial economics). What are the skills or traits that make school dropouts successful? Having that said , am I choosing the right course?Should I play safe and consequently find myself stucked in the treadmills of work? Or should I take risk and challenge myself to do something that is meaningful? As far as I know , we learn best by bottom-up approach , by trial and error + life is no fun without risk Very often one question only leads to another question. Maybe it's about finding the right question rather than finding the right answer ; I don't know. I guess all I have to do now is explore , who knows I'll eventually love the course I'm choosing which is engineering.The reason why this is so important is tht I don't want to lie to myself " i chose this course because I'm passionate abt bla3" and spend 4-5 years of suffering in uni -.- . It's equivalent to marrying the wrong person! 
  • Jul 15 2013: Well certainly find something secure, try to earn a steady income so you don't end up on the street, but aside from that, follow your dreams and don't let your family stop you, I know it sounds cliche, but live the life you want to live, not the life others want you to live. Because honestly, Mary, your family may give you a hard time at first and may be disappointed, but when your on your deathbed, looking back at your life, you'll be happy that you chose your own path rather than be a drone who's only aim was to satisfy others expectations of you. I, against my family's wishes, am going to be an investment banker, (they're liberals and disprove of my love for materials and wealth) I could just be a doctor and suck up to them like some of my friends, but then would I be truly happy? No, I wouldn't and neither would you or anyone else who lets other people live through them rather let themselves lead the life they want to live.
    Best wishes,
  • Jul 15 2013: If you need answer in couple of lines, here's what I know.
    One needs discipline and dedication toward one's goals. Make plans (necessary) but have the flexibility to tweak your plans with time. For real happiness, include an option for some "greater good" in your plans. And One does need money to live (live = survival + some perks) in this world.
  • Jul 15 2013: Follow what excites you and you will be happy. You want to get up each morning excited to go to work or your life will be meaningless in the end. Material wealth is nice but I can show you many so-called "successful" who face each day with dread and feeling tired before they even begin.
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    Jul 13 2013: Re: "Yet my family and culture pushes me in the direction of "traditional success" which consists of a job paying big bucks, a shiny new car, big house, two kids, and a dog. The American Dream, for a latina in a migrant family. This is seen as climbing up the ladder, it's a practical, comfortable lifestyle."

    Oh, no!!! Material possessions enslave us. My advice - do NOT take this course.

    Big house will suck a huge chunk out of your paycheck. It will tie you to the city you live, significantly limiting job opportunities, flexibility, and ultimately, financial security in case you lose a job. It also requires a lot of time and money to maintain - gutters, roof, lawns, fences, plumbing, shmumbing. Only by real estate to produce residual monthly income, not to live in.

    My favorite car is my Honda Accord'96. It has one great unbeatable feature that I cannot get on any other car - 0 monthly payments.

    Two kids. Yes, they are cute. They also will consume, at least, 15 years of your life: feeding, diaper changes, walks, doctor visits, play dates, home work, volunteering, school events, classes, sports practices, hectic morning schedules to catch the school bus at 7am. I only got that far. No idea where to get the money for colleges.

    A dog... Getting up at 6am every day to get it out for a walk. Vaccinations, training, picking up poop, limiting rental opportunities, dealing with neighbor complains about barking. Not unless you LOVE dogs...

    Education and career - yes. I don't advocate nomadic life and dumpster-diving for food. Find out what you love to do early in life and do it. Have a place to live and enough money to pay for it. Travel, get friends. We do need social life, emotional connection with someone. But remember that once you get family, kids, house, cars, and dogs, you will work because you MUST, not because you WANT. Material possessions - no.

    Just sharing some of my experiences
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      Jul 13 2013: Good advise, financial freedom.

      As I stated earlier figure out what your goals are. I doubt they will be things, but for some they are.
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        Jul 13 2013: Pat, financial freedom is not the only consideration. For me, the biggest problem is time. Each thing we own requires time. E.g. shirts need to be washed, dried, pressed, hung in the closet. No big deal, right? What if you have 20 of them? What if you have 3 kids, each of whom have 20 shirts? Just two weeks ago had to take care of a dishwasher leak which damaged hardwood floor in the kitchen. If I rented, I would have just called the landlord. Teenagers have no idea how this stuff can bog down. I dread material possessions not as much because they take money, but mostly because they take my time and, ultimately, life.
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        Jul 14 2013: This is true. With money, one can hire maids to take care of chores, babysitters, educators for kids, landscape maintenance, repair people, personal organizers. But, still, it's very time consuming to deal with all that.
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          Jul 14 2013: look at comparative advantage and how that applies to management of people.
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        Jul 15 2013: Pat, I agree, when we manage other people, we can achieve a lot more than alone. At some point in our life and career, we need to start delegating our stuff - the sooner the better.

        But still, decision making is, perhaps, the most stressful activities (even at the trivial level like, for example, pairing socks and deciding in which kid's drawer they have to go). When you choose between two maids or landscapers, the stress does not go away - it's still decision making. There is a reason why managers are paid more than individual contributors. The fewer decisions we have to make - the happier we are. It's better to manage something that we love - not "stuff" that we got because we follow someone's stereotypes of "good life".
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          Jul 15 2013: To me this sounds like lack of management skills, maybe that is part of the comparative advantage?

          I will give you the last word.
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        Jul 15 2013: Re: "To me this sounds like lack of management skills, maybe that is part of the comparative advantage?"

        Perhaps. This, perhaps, emphasizes the importance of self-analysis to understand what we are good at so that we don't end up doing what we hate or not good at. Not everyone is cut out to be a parent or manage other people.

        I think, as usual, we have come to the circular nature of the problem: we need to do what we are good at and delegate what we are not so good at to others. But if we are not good at delegating - we've got a problem :-)
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        Jul 13 2013: May be, it's just Friday night and I'm tired. Perhaps, I could give an equally eloquent speech on how children are the source of joy and pride, about the importance of having a family, advantages of having physical and emotional support. I could also talk about how all the dating and courting, emotional ups and downs, euphoria followed by a heart break can be nerve wrecking for a single person. Sex is a physiological need, after all. If it's not satisfied regularly, there are emotional and physiological consequences.

        There is a Russian aphorism saying "it's better to go through the way of life than the whole universe". So, the answer is "no". I don't want to trade my life with anyone. "One man's meat is another man's poison". "Jedem das Seine".
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        Jul 15 2013: Keep in mind that when the house is falling down and you are not in a shape to satisfy your wife, chances are you will sleep on a couch and not in the arms of your wife :-)

        You know my love for biblical wisdom. This is said in the Bible twice (Proverbs 21:9 and Proverbs Proverbs 25:24)

        "Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife." :-)

        Better to be healthy but rich than sick but poor :-) My preference is to sleep with my wife in a luxury hotel. Or, at least, have such opportunity.
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      Jul 13 2013: "My favorite car is my Honda Accord'96. It has one great unbeatable feature that I cannot get on any other car - 0 monthly payments."

      I love those Hondas. I had a 1990 Honda that died about a year ago. Buy a late model for cash on hand & take care of it. That car will never die!
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      Jul 13 2013: Arkaday, this is exactly the life I fear. Marriage is nowhere on the radar...for many, many, many years. Eventually I may change my views but I'm not exactly a dog person:) At least I know that won't change.

      I love reading and writing, always have, always will...but I wonder if pharmacy school wouldn't be the best route to freedom is valuable. Thanks
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        Jul 13 2013: Re: "Marriage is nowhere on the radar...for many, many, many years."

        Yes. That's what she said :-). Don't make such bets. Let the life take its course. Put your words down and read them five years from now. Just for laughs. My dad said, "don't marry someone you can live with, marry someone you can't live without".

        Just remember that whatever your expectations of life are - the life will be different. My wife wanted a girl. This is why we have 3 boys. Expectations pave the way to disappointment. Enjoy what you have.

        Do what all people do - listen to advice and do your own thing anyway :-).

        Do you love pharmacy? Keep in mind that once you pick a career, it's very difficult to switch to a different one. It's like a train going on a track from the station. One switch in a wrong direction and it's hard to get where you want to be. Don't choose "a thing to do" - choose "the thing to do". It's important to know your own passions. If you don't love your work, you will not succeed in it and it will not bring you financial freedom.
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          Jul 13 2013: "That's what she said"

          I lol'd hard at that.

          But true, such bets are hard to make. Love can be found anywhere and we never know when we will meet that perfect one, tailor made for oneself.

          I believe that we should do something we are passionate about and not what others want. Its our life and making right decisions about jobs is one huge part of it. Also, if we do something we don't love, we will never be able to do well in it, as hard as you try.
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        Jul 23 2013: Love someone for who they are not who they will have to become.
  • Jul 11 2013: There is a small group of young students who think the way you do: futuristic planning, if you will. Many students accept the common path that everyone is supposed to take, yet never acknowledge their dreams as something that can actually become reality. I was much like you at your age. I am 24 now, and I have a few words to say about this subject because I spent nearly 8 years trying to balance practical living with reaching for my dreams.

    During my high school years, I had a few dreams and aspirations that I was undoubtedly going to do. However, I had a problem. How was I going to afford it all? I wanted to travel, buy a house, have a family, and no doubt was my current profession was not going to fund any of this: a server at a restaurant. So I knew I had to make a change.

    The first change I made was changing the way I looked at my life. My perspective at the time was that I had a very short amount of time to see all my dreams come to pass. I was in a hurry for no reason. I then realized that some dreams like traveling could wait. I slowly began to change my perspective on life.

    I would suggest to you to not be anxious about the future and know that you have plenty of time to balance practical living and achieving your dreams. As you get older you will start to prioritize certain things in your life and how you prioritize your life can greatly affect your overall happiness. Prioritize with a balanced mindset on practical living and achieving your dreams. Some dreams of yours may be bigger and harder taking more time to achieve, while others can be achieved fairly easily and quickly. A small step towards any goal is still progress.
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      Jul 13 2013: Thanks, often times we all need someone to tell us to slow down, I know I do. Overthinking my decisions can lead needless rushing, and sleepless nights...I confess to being a worrywart.

      Thanks for the reminder:)
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      Jul 13 2013: Hey Austin, thanks for sharing.

      I plan to move to either LA and pursue a degree in Film production or move to either Amsterdam or Ibiza and work as a DJ in a club and do other jobs while attending college. I believe I can afford minimal living by myself until either my music or film career jumps forward.

      Do you think I should take a risk and enjoy a life full of exciting new adventures? Or should I actually go 'conventional'?
      • Jul 15 2013: Well from the way you form your question, it seems you have your mind already made up. A life full of excitement and new adventures can be achieved in a "conventional" manner; however, it takes hard work and dedication. Many times I feel that a majority of people today steer away from hard work and dedication or, in other words, "conventional" living.

        That said, I believe you should take a risk.
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          Jul 15 2013: Thanks, I needed someone to say that to me.

          I feel motivated. I really needed some motivation. Haha...I'm needy sometimes.
  • Jul 10 2013: There is nothing wrong with pursuing your vision of the American Dream. Your vision might be different than visions of others and it may change as priorities in your life change, opportunities become available to you, and fate an fortune enter your life. It is very natural for your family to want you to get ahead and be successful. The good news is that you get to define success.

    I have no real regrets, although I would have liked to play one round of golf with my father.

    I think your should strive to take control of your own life to the greatest extent possible. Earn your own money, make your own choices, learn to work hard and try to learn form your work. Live below your means and save for times when the unexpected happens. Avoid buying things you can't afford to pay for when you get them. Plan ahead so that your big decisions are pro-active and made on your terms, rather than reactive and done to satisfy the requirements of someone else. Be your own advocate and be cognizant of your strengths and weaknesses. Try and improve your weaknesses. Look for opportunities where your skill set, knowledge or credentials can be improved by doing hard work, then do the work, and take pride in how well you have done it. Do not expect anyone to give you anything, but be gracious when they do. Do not expect anyone to praise you, but thank them if they do and take pleasure in your own accomplishments. Remain positive in attitude and action. So often doing or saying negative things will haunt you and poison your disposition. Give what you need to for family, what you can do for friends, in try and keep the gift in terms of work and time more than money.

    Keep your eyes open at school for opportunities to travel, perhaps working as part of the deal to reduce costs.
    Wealth will come with time if you follow this path. Deferred gratification seems to work often.

    It is important to enjoy your journey through life, all phases of life, because life is a finite measure of time.
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      Jul 10 2013: Thank you, this is really helpful, I hadn't thought of myself as "getting to define success" I love that.
  • Jul 23 2013: I recommend three books for a totally different approach to life: Excuse Me Your Life is Waiting by Linda Grabhorn (everything is about energy, and how to keep your life positive); The Power of Now (this present moment is the only time any real action takes place) and A New Earth (especially this one) by Eckhart Tolle. Aside from the ideas contained in those books, I would say that the worst possible goal for any young person is "more" -- more money, bigger house, new car -- all irrelevant to happiness. If you love doing something, do it. If you cannot pay the bills doing it, then do whatever you can to pay the bills and do it in your spare time. I was raised in the Rio Grande Valley, by the way -- my first step was to leave. :) Know that mistakes are your new teachers, and learn from them. It appears you enjoy writing and have something to say. Write stories about your future as you would like to live it. If we cannot imagine a thing, we cannot begin to create it. One more thing: check out -- there are communities forming all over the world; you could travel from one to another, working at each one as needed. The world by the time you are 40 will not be the same place it is now. The present moment, however, is always manageable.
  • Jul 19 2013: erhaps because of our situations, we perceive some things differently and I don't agree that it is much easier for a woman to walk out the door. As a volunteer with several social service agencies, I have seen a lot of women struggling with the ramifications of separation/divorce.....just as men struggle with the circumstances. We are all people with feelings and emotions.
  • Nat K

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    Jul 19 2013: Mary,
    you definitely can do anything and be anything in this life. Doesn't matter what your background is. Plus, as I understand, you are citiizen of a great country where you can get good education, also without a loan! It isn't easy, but feasible and this is a real chance. Trust me, many people in other places would give anything to be in your place. Just my story cut short: I grew up in one of the Soviet Repoubliks, in the 90s all went down the hill, my parents lost all their savings etc. etc. I even remember we didn't have enough to eat at times plus imagine very cold winters and the heating was very very expensive. What saved my family was our optimism and being one family, but also and most importantly the expertise of my highly educated parents. Their expert advice did not bring them wealth at later point, but a lot of respect from the community. My family has always been very proud of all the education most of my nuclear family members could pursue and this is my point here, particularly for a girl: Get your education sorted. I left the country when I was 17. I arrived in Germany with little money in my pocket and no friends or family. And I made it. I never took the loan. I got scholarships, got my MA, live and work in London now, got a nice property with my partner. But the material things are by no means the most important in my life. My travels and scholarships abroad were the most valuable experiences in my life. These experiences shaped me. I've travelled most of my life and this is who I am. It doesn't have to be the recipe for you. But it does help a lot if you are independent as a woman. This will give you a freedom to make the best decisions for yourself. Keep us posted;)
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    Jul 16 2013: As Ray Charles sang, "I've made fortunes, spent them fast enough." By all means pursue college, it was the best decision I ever made. But, when you are there make it your full time job. If you need a second job to pay the bills, fine. College must be your full time job though. And, if you want to get through it and have money and time for travel do not take any student loans while in college. Grants and work study are fine, but do not fall into the student loan trap. Work every summer, every evening, overnights, mornings - basically whenever you are not studying or sleeping. Definitely take a "me" break now and then, but make sure you do not take out a student loan. Remember that almost no legal job is "beneath" you. If you can get through without debt, you will start life one step ahead of everybody else. Then, consider putting your new skills to use oversees to satisfy your travel desire.

    After college, you could become an ESL teacher in places life Spain, China, Japan, and other countries that want their citizens to learn English. You could join the Peace Corp for a truly unique experience. What you do will really be what matters to you most. Nobody can answer that question but you.

    Really though, it is difficult to graduate school and not take a job when you have student loan debt - so do what you can to avoid it, and you will be able to do whatever you want to do.
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      Jul 16 2013: Thanks, I definitely will try my best not to take on any loans. I discussed with my history professor how people end up slave to the bank. Our debt keeps us in chains and prevents progress. So much of the everyday person's life in involved in the bank/debt. We are kept on mortgage, loans, taking things out on credit, that it can become difficult to live independent of the system...our nation has a pretty shady history behind banking, though that's heading into conspiracy talk:)
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      Jul 16 2013: There was a funny man from the WWII generation, called Art Buchwald. He was known by almost everyone who watched late night comedy, talk shows, or read his columns in News papers around the country for 50+ years. When he left the army at the end of WWII he had the (GI bill) to look forward to. After asking around he discovered a great, and wonderful truth. That being, you didn't have to attend college in the United States "necessarily"! So Art decided to stay right there in Paris, and attend the American University instead of returning home to what may have been a very different life. Not only that, but this Middle class Jewish Kid from New York "I think" who didn't know diddle squat about food, or how to cook had the unmitigated audacity to go to La Monde the biggest News Paper in paris. There he marched into the Editors office and asked if he could become the (food critic). I don't know how well you know the French, especially the Parisians, but they take their food very seriously. That took a lot of brass knockers to do that. The editor threw him out. The important thing is he kept coming back. Finally the editor gave him the job perhaps to get him to stop bothering him. He did that job for several years very successfully. That's a lesson to learn, that is repeated a million times every day somewhere in the world.
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    Jul 15 2013: I try to maintain a balance by following a mantra of: Do what you WANT to do, AFTER you do what you HAVE to do. Set goals to achieve what you want to do. Be sure to formulate a plan for those goals, because a goal without a plan is just a wish. Good luck =)-CT
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    Jul 15 2013: Material doesn't matter but it is faith that helps your strive, both think and learn something in order pursue a profession
  • Jul 15 2013: What's really great is the fact that you are asking this question when you are sixteen. I started REALLY asking similar questions about 12 years ago, and I still don't have good answers yet, It takes time to figure this out for some. For others, they could know in an instant. If you find yourself taking a long time, and taking your time with these types of questions is a good idea, enjoy it and find something practical to keep you going while you work on it, In the end, I believe it will matter what you do and who you are with more than anything else, but money in the bank is money in the bank. Taking the leap is worth it no matter what age you are.

    Is material gain important to YOU? If it is then go for it.

    1. No one can give you a set of rules that will work 100% for you. Make your own rules.
    2. Listen to everything, but only let the healthy knowledge seeds take root in your mind. "Weed your garden," so to speak, when something is there that shouldn't.
    3. Be careful of what you read on the internet.
    4. Last but not least. No matter how long your journey takes. Frickin enjoy it. I've spent a lot of times focused a bit too much on my mistakes and failures. It's great to learn from these, but dwelling on them will probably only make more mistakes and failures. Enjoy and learn more from your successes.
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    Jul 15 2013: You have to slow down my friend. Look at the things ( you ) love about life. Music , Art, history, fashion, science, politics, whatever it is. Decide quietly, in your own mind, what things really make ( you ) happy. At your age, the most important things are usually of the romantic nature, but if you can put that aside long enough to look at the things your passionate about, you'll be cool. What ever thing you like, is where you have to point your efforts. Meditate carefully! Separate the things people are telling you to do, from what you really want. Being a lawyer, or doctor, might be just right for you. Statistically 70%+ of college graduates work in a field completely different than their degree would suggest. If travel is in your mind, your not alone. Most poor souls will never get to see the things I've been able to see on someone else's dollar. For 40 years I've been from Thailand to Paris, San Francisco to Lisbon, Taiwan to Amsterdam, and every state in the US more than once, and much more. There's often a price of career changes one has to chance to accomplish that. It's cost me a lot of money because of that. However; I have lived the dream of the world explorer I dreamt of as a child. You can do better, There's a thousand opportunities for international travel, but only for those prepared to work at. Documentary films , nature films, The State Department, Just pick something cool and immerse yourself in it for a few years. You'll come out smelling like a rose. Become a fanatical student of what ever it is, and you'll beat your competition. The money will come without you even thinking about it.
  • Jul 14 2013: When you're young, time seems to move slowly, and conversely when you're old. Therefore, get all your core necessities done first - while it seems you have a good deal of time to do it. You will be properly delighted when you find yourself "old". I'm currently 54 and wish I learned this at 18.
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    Jul 14 2013: @Simon Peter Debbarma, @Mary Vidaurri, Nice sunglasses; & I like the Garfield T-shirt!

    You guys make me wish that I was young again. Feels that way, almost right now! Thank you for that. I'm not so old that I cannot enjoy your happiness & your promise. Like - you guys are the future! Me, I'm the past . . . not-so-much the ancient past. But when you get old/fat/bald you live w/that. Old you can't help. Fat I'm working on. Bald they make medicines for. And ugly? Well, if you just keep smiling, the world will smile with you! And that means something good. So I try to smile a lot these days!.

    I'm glad I posted a comment here! But here is a very very tiny & small cautionary statement. This is a very small & tiny warning: Be careful of misbelief & disbelief. Set aside things that are weird & mean. And nihilism? For me that was the thing that drove me back to faith. To quote Mary: "when I stopped believing in a superior power I was lead to the conclusion that life has no meaning, so nothing matters, which leads to nothing is worth doing." For me, that was scary. My parents weren't nearly as wonderful as those people you guys complain about here! So I was really lost in that for a while. That was NOT fun at all.

    Believe things that are tested by time & proven to be good. The content & details of your belief & traditions matter much less than investing yourself in ideas that are tested by time & proven to be good. Believe stuff that is nourishing for the spirit. Believe in stuff & do stuff that helps all that is good on Earth stay good!

    I think that's the idea I want you both to get. Nourish joy & hope in your life. Nourish your spirit & make your hearts strong for the future. I need you both to do that. That kind of thing can make us old folks really happy. And one day, you WILL understand exactly why I can say that. I can't explain it really. But one day, you will both know EXACTLY what I mean here. Bless you both.
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      Jul 14 2013: I always take time to adjust to things and I always prefer for time-tested ways. Thanks for reminding me.

      The last paragraph was difficult to understand but I'll keep thinking about it. If you don't mind, can you talk more about it and explain it to me.

      And thank you for your blessings. Wish you a awesome life.
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        Jul 14 2013: Yes, I shall explain. You are about to turn 18. I just had my birthday this month. Let's see, doing the math . . . I am more than three times as old as you are. I've lived three times as long. When you were born. I was twice as old as you are now. And you know what, I will never be young again. I'm not 'senile' (yet) but "I ain't no spring-chicken" anymore. I no longer have children living @ home. And as I reflect upon my life, my hopes, & my broken-dreams, I find it easy to get sad or even angry. Life is often not fair. But many things in life can not be changed - or ever be made right in the way that I remember thinking about "what is right?" when I was your age.

        But then, I meet these two young people on TED. That's you & Mary Vidaurri. I read what you write here. I see your minds thinking; you write about what you are feeling - and I can't help but think, "Sounds like me when I was that age - but I was nowhere near THAT smart!"

        So maybe the world is an OK place after all. Not only that, but no one stays here forever. We'd all like to - but one day we all leave this Earth. Once day I will. We all die. Me - I'm probably 3 times closer to that great END than you or Mary. So there is a very good chance that both of you will be here after I have 'checked out,' so to speak. So the world was a good place before I arrived (before I was born). And with people in this Earth like you & Mary, the whole world can only get better! (Whether I am here or not, in time, the world will only get better.) And I like that!

        And, given the way things go on this Earth, Both you AND Mary, in your separate lives, will one day be as old as I am today. If you are lucky, you'll run into some young people asking themselves the same questions that I see you & Mary asking on this thread here! Why shouldn't you be happy on that day in the future. Why not!

        Here's a link for you w/a book to read. AWESOME!
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          Jul 15 2013: I shall read that book. Thanks for the suggestion.

          Its a pleasure to see you have high hopes on us. Its very motivating. Its because of people her on TED that my self-confidence is high now.

          I promise not to fail you and make you proud of me.

          Thank you very much, Juan.
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      Jul 17 2013: Your words of advice have been very encouraging to me, I'm so glad I stumbled on this site.
      Never had I imagined meeting such an intelligent and accepting community...thank you for your
      support, I will make the most of this life I'm given, and part of that is due to you showing me
      there are people willing to listen and discuss.

      Thank you, Juan.
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        Jul 17 2013: Mostly it all goes back to what your parents taught you: Respect! You find that in Hispanic & Asian cultures. Respect is everything. I grew up in Texas & I see that much in your eyes on your photo.

        Mostly, I would encourage you to spend as much time as you can watching TED videos. The videos are made by people who have already accomplished significant things in their lives. All those zillionaires who go to the TED conferences know that. People with huge businesses they built themselves & tons of cash to go with it have two things: 1) the ability to tell a good idea from a not-so-good idea; and 2) WHO is just selling the B.S.

        TED could not exist if it got lazy even once & sold the B.S. That's why these videos are not available on TED.

        The Graham Hancock video is entertaining, but it is NOT solidly based in sound research; solid science; or even good Anthropology. It makes for a compelling "pot-head" recovery testimonial, but it is not up to TED standards.

        Rupert Sheldrake is a respected scientist, but his Morphic field is criticized as 'pseudoscience.' I think he may be on to something, but he needed to be more deeply concerned about his reputation - rather than selling ideas that sound like a snake oil sales pitch. Radical ideas have to be shaved into very thin slices & sold in small bits of proven truth - rather than concocted into a whole book of what sounds like mythology!

        I don't know Nick Hanauer (see Wikipedia). But his talk is not one that a wealthy business community of successful entrepreneurs would want to hear or choose to appreciate. I am not an economist, but what he offers makes more sense to me than a lot of the rest of it. We need a LARGE diverse middle class in the U.S.A. We do NOT need a handful of additional billionaires. His talk appeals to me, but it scares me too!
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    Jul 13 2013: @Simon Peter Debbarma Thank you for your comment. I want to quote from your comment here and respond with a few thoughts of my own.

    "These family knit values are mostly prevalent in christian families." I am very glad that this is true for you. But here in the U.S.A. those 'family knit values' are eroding fast! Not all families are a strong & able to do wonderful things for their children. It isn't just about money, its about the ability to be a parent and care for your child/children. Values & a sense of self -who you are & where you come from; THAT is often far more important than money or the lack of it.

    ". . . many times I have found myself conflicted with things I want to do and things I should do." That is true for everyone. Christian, Jew, Muslim, Atheist, Agnostic, or anything else, knowing what to do and when to do it, is always a problem. No one has an 'edge' in that department. It isn't that all faiths/non-faiths are the same. They are not. Knowing what is RIGHT is always a challenge. Then going on to do just that is never easy. And even then, how can you be sure? Knowing yourself, your origins, & having a sense of destiny/purposed in life is very important. Faith helps w/that.

    ". . . many times I have found myself doubting in what I believe. . . I have found myself thinking if religion is all fake. I don't know for sure but what have we got to loose, so I have trust and i just go with it." It isn't easy, but if you are going to be a thinking person you have no choice but to ask yourself hard questions sometimes. Welcome to the club! The greatest thinkers of all the ages, at all times, in all cultures have asked themselves similar questions. Those famous names are everywhere; many are named here on this thread. I am not here to offer anything specific on that. Is there a God? Why do we believe? On & on. I'm not here to offer any answers . . . except. If you are young & fortunate enough to have parents who care, keep them.
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      Jul 14 2013: Juan,thank you soo much for your advise. I'll make sure to uphold them in my life.

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        Jul 14 2013: You don't need my advice. You need a challenge that you can afford to take personally. THEN (and only then) will you embark upon the great adventure that will make your life meaningful & worthwhile.

        THAT is the secret to living an Awesome life. So I wish that for you. To quote E.T. from the Steven Spielberg movie:
        "Be good!"
  • Jul 13 2013: Wow! Mary, I have found that obtaining material just becomes more junk to lug around. I have traveled, and I treasure those memories more than any object I own. For someone like me that makes his money making or repairing things, tools have always been the must have list. The problem is, more tools doesn't necessarily tranlate into better making or repairing, just more junk in the way. I know several people with their stuff togather, that do not own cars, or are part of a co-op that can borrow one when they have need, and their lives are truly great. I think you already know the answer you are looking for, and I don't think you need any permission to achieve it. Take the leap!
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    Jul 13 2013: Yea material possessions are the key driver of today's values, but if you step back far enough you'll start seeing that the same values that we are constantly fed throughout our lives (eg. the american dream), strongly supports the establishment (capital owners, corporations etc,) and its values (which are selling products for profit, growing capital etc).

    The problem isn't so much that buying materials are bad, just how we are blindly tricked into consuming by media/propaganda. This is a form of conditioning on the human psychological state. Its simple, feed a society a set of values (today's being consumption and wealth), and you have an output of behaviours and "wants". in our "modern" society, we look towards material wealth as status with friend and family relationships, simply as a result of conditioning imposed on society and the values derived from it, passed down from generation to generation in principle.

    So my advise...break away from the social norms and think outside of "the box". Its the only way true self awareness can be accomplished, and real change can occur.
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    Jul 11 2013: Hi Mary,
    Material gain matters only in as much as it supports other aspects of the life experience. I agree with Betty's perception, that if you want to create a life, you need to figure out how to do it. We can balance practicality with reaching for our dreams, and in my experience, they may not happen all at the same time. There are many choices, and it's important to listen, take in information, and make your own life choices.

    I experience phases with the life exploration...
    I was married and had children in my early 20s, we had very little resources, so being practical/frugal was important. The family was my focus, although I participated a little in sports, traveled a little, pursued some creative endeavors....mostly learned more about recycling and reusing things because we didn't have much money. I started a little home business. I know lots of people who traveled extensively at this time of their lives and had a family later.

    When the kids were older, and I was diagnosed with a sometimes disabling dis-ease, I focused on building physical strength, so started participating in various sports. I was still the mom and wife, still traveled a bit, had 2 home businesses, and the focus was strengthening the body to support the dis-ease. That was in my 30's.

    When the kids were off to college, my hubby and I ended 24 years of marriage, an activity that had been a hobby became a career, and I began traveling a LOT.

    10 years later, I sustained a near fatal head/brain injury horseback riding, and it was time for another evaluation. I was still a mom, although the kids were adults, I ended one career, sold the business, traveled a lot more, and began volunteering in several social services agencies.

    I perceive many changes and stages of the life adventure, so I continue to evaluate the circumstances, decide how I would like to grow and learn by following my heart, and logically/reasonably figuring out the next step. I think/feel that is how we find the balance:>)
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      Jul 11 2013: Colleen,

      I know this may be hard as hell to answer on a web site. If no answer or reply I understand. So...24 years of being together with someone and having children with them and...? I don't understand. Nah, I'm not faulting you or him (at the moment, ha). Where there ever any means to a good end (kind of like "death do us part", not the unexpected end)? I was never married and I don't want anything to do with that ever. It holds no value at all today. I am not religious. I like the whole idea behind marriage and support it but it's surrounded by dark clouds of distrust of unexpected ends today. I often wonder if the idea of being a young single mother stimulates an ego boost/victim heroine of some sort, an attention getter filled with unlimited power over the children.
      If I understood you correctly you were/are past this point which is a good thing for the most part. I don't get it. Where will you go from here at this point of your life, start over? Die alone? Maybe already had something started before the end? I don't know. Ah, sorry, none of my business. I understand. However, same old crap just a different person after the flowery days with warm waters in the beginning.
      Sorry I'm totally off topic here or maybe not.
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        Jul 11 2013: Hi Vincent:>)
        "24 years of being together with someone and having children with them and".....we either grow together or apart. I realized after 10 years that the marriage was not good, and in my perception, it had a lot to do with lack of good communication, learning about each other and growing....together.....or apart. I'm not faulting anyone either. I married for life, and I had parents who were together for 65 years, so that was my model.

        After the 10 year mark, I consciously made an attempt to help create a better situation for us. If there is a communication issue however, it takes two people to change anything. I realized I could not change another person, I could only change myself, and that is what I proceeded to do. As I continued to change myself and become more confident, we grew further and further apart.

        I think it's important to evaluate our lives at various junctures, as I said in the previous comment. Marriage holds as much value as we choose to give it. I was glad I was married because I was sure I wanted to have children, and it felt like it would give them more stability. I'm not so sure anymore. I know lots of people who have a very strong commitment to each other and their kids and are not married.

        I don't think it is wise to generalize about people, because we do not know the story behind the decisions of each and every person. We can only take care of ourselves, and support other people in our, family, friends, etc......

        That's why I think/feel that an evaluation of our lives periodically is very valuable.....make any sense?
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          Jul 11 2013: I do my best not to generalize. I get my fair share of it in the court of law, trust me. However, there it is, another classic generalized reason (I didn't say this one) which is coming to the realization that you can not change someone when it is too late to come to this realization. I had to deal with that line myself just as others have. Communication issue is the number 1 cause. Why do we (I'm leaving gender out) try to change someone and not except them for who they were from the start? You change, ok no problem for the most part there is still much thought and genuine feeling there just as in the beginning. Why expect someone to change with you which will in the long run determine the unexpected end throwing compromise out of the window suddenly? If I asked you to change would you not get on the defensive about not being accepted for who you are? Sounds like something we learn at birth called manipulation. It goes overboard at times. I'm singing Bob Marley now..."don't treat me like a puppet on a string cause I know how to do my thing..." Hey, thanks for the honesty and reply, much appreciated. This is a culture/social thing as I was just about sure of. Either grow together or grow apart, I'm in disbelief and you are too somewhat I believe. I can tell by the ....or ... :) It's a negative belief because you let fate decide your outcome rather than you taking control of it like choosing not to take medicine and leaving it up to a god. I have made this mistake many times before myself. We all do in one form or another. Enough about love, eh? Same crap different person :)
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        Jul 12 2013: Vincent,
        You ask..."Why do we (I'm leaving gender out) try to change someone and not except them for who they were from the start? You change, ok no problem for the most part there".

        As I said previously, in my perception, we change and grow together, or change and grow apart. I am constantly changing as I grow and learn, so no, I do not "get on the defensive" when talking about change. If you don't accept me the way I be it....that is your choice.

        I also believe in balancing practicality with reaching for my dreams, and for me, evaluating my life every once in a while helps me to "know thyself", so I have information with which to change and balance:>)

        Most of your comment directly above seems like venting.

        I'm curious Vincent...You started this other conversation in which it seems like you were expressing the idea that you were having separation/divorce/custody challenges with the court.

        In this conversation, you say that you were never married...

        "Vincent DeVillier
        21 hours ago:
        I was never married and I don't want anything to do with that ever."

        What's up with that?
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          Jul 13 2013: I was never married. I was engaged for about 8 years and I HAD two children. Now they are her children.

          Not venting. I do my best in order to help others understand through my experiences. I believe in equality. I must say it is much easier for a woman to walk out the door today than it was years ago. Take a look at the rates. It has gone overboard in one direction as it was overboard many years ago for men. I honestly believe if there is enough greed it is easy for a woman to have kids then walk out the door and to the family court room ASAP. Why? 1. Unlimited power over decisions for the kids. 2. Cash money from Dad. Food and clothes again at moms choice. 3. 85% time with the kids is standard 100% if Dad was just laid off.. 4. Does not have to compromise with Dad at all about anything. 5. The ability to "punish" Dad if he does not agree OR becomes angry at my decisions. 6. The ability to use the cash from child support from Dad on other desires after the food and clothes requirements have been easily met.
          I could go on... and yes, there is enough greed. I suggest a food card for #2 and #6 if any exchange is necessary at all even.
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        Jul 14 2013: Vincent,
        Perhaps because of our situations, we perceive some things differently and I don't agree that it is much easier for a woman to walk out the door. As a volunteer with several social service agencies, I have seen a lot of women struggling with the ramifications of separation/divorce.....just as men struggle with the circumstances. We are all people with feelings and emotions.
  • Jul 11 2013: You can have both. I find that academic success generally leads to freedom, or at least travel. You want to travel. That costs money. If you want to have the life you want, you need to acquire the means to do it.

    I studied abroad last semester for 5 months in the United Kingdom, and now I am doing research in Berlin this summer for 3 months. These experiences did not cost too much money because of their academic nature. My 5 month in the UK probably cost me $4,000 more than living back home and my trip to Germany, although I am making less money than I would if I was working back home, is basically free. My stipend covers my living expenses (not my travel expenses).

    The better positioned you are in life, the more opportunities you will have. For example, I am living in Germany right now because I got an academic scholarship to do research here. Also, if you do end up getting material wealth. you can take a 2 week vacation anywhere every year. After 30 year years of that, you will be well traveled.

    I also find that searching for happiness will not let you find it. The only way for me to be happy and content is to know that what I am doing is worthwhile and productive. It is a sense of accomplishment that makes me content. Find something you like doing, are passionate about and work your butt off. Don't do something you hate, obviously. I want to travel as well. I know that the only way to travel is to work really hard in academia, and become economically successful.
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      Jul 13 2013: Thanks, I'm coming to a similar conclusion...I've been looking up universities with travel programs to apply for in the fall, and re-considering pharmacy school...maybe it'll lead me to more travel opportunities than I previously thought (Costa Rica to study the natural fauna and their possible medical uses:)
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    Jul 11 2013: Know your destiny; get the job skills you need to get there! That means making MONEY! That freedom is something you should NEVER have to live without!

    I'm not ready to get off my soap-box yet! But the importance of a marketable job skill is critical. If I had to do it all over again, I'd have gone that route. I'd have gone to vocational school while I was still in high school. My personal goal would have been (or should have been) to get my RN, or LPN/LVN, or an allied health credential. Healthcare was my destiny. And if I could have gotten that DONE before I was 20 or 21, I would have been GOLDEN for all of the rest of my life! Really! Put social stuff, boys, & all that other stuff aside if you need to. Get a job skill. Get a job skill that is guaranteed to be in demand for YEARS. Get a job skill that means you will NEVER work at McDonalds or Walmart! Tejana! Listen!

    I love McDonald's hamburgers & I love to shop cheap @Walmart! W/o Walmart - I guarantee that there are bills that we can NOT pay! For sure on that! But if you are a 16 y/o kid who is smart enough to ask these questions on TED, then THAT means you are smart enough to see the wisdom in what I am saying here.

    I have not one but TWO terminal degrees that legally give me the title of "doctor" here in the U.S.A. I got ALL the education I could get! If I wanted to, I could call myself "doctor" in the phone book. And all that made my parents really proud. But now they are dead & I am old! And we still have bills to pay! That sucks!

    Right now, I just had a birthday - and now I am 5 years older than my Grandfather was when I was born. I feel really old if I think about that too much! So my advice: think JOB & MONEY! Once you HAVE that, THEN pursue your dreams, & hope & ambitions. THEN go get that PhD & do the research that will earn you a TEDtalk some day! You can do that! But do the job/money thing FIRST. If I had - I'd be way better off today! For sure on that! Yes sir!
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    Jul 11 2013: What really matters in life is doing the most important things; getting one's priority right. There are things that each individual has to do to find fufilment. This has little or nothing to do with what the media and pop culture sets as standards. But deep within us is the hunger for something meaningful and greater than desires fuelled by selfishness.

    Seek and you shall find, says the Bible.
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    Jul 11 2013: What matters more to you? Picture yourself at 95 on your death bed. Will you go in peace knowing you lived your life to the fullest YOU wanted from it or will you look back and wish about what you should have done? Hopefully this will help you find the answer you are looking for that no one else can give the answer to except yourself.
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      Jul 11 2013: Thanks, I do this quite a bit already, I'm afraid it's a bit morbid.While I think I'm too young to declare myself an adamant atheist, I really do believe this time on earth is all we have. I'm glad of the fact that I am a self-aware, carbon-based life-form, and it's a complete miracle to me.

      "If I live the life I'm given, I won't be scared to die"- Avett Brothers
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        Jul 11 2013: Age should not have much to do with what you believe. I like to keep mine real personal and only share it with people who are special to me but it is along those lines as yours with some extra non beliefs :) I don't see morbid in death being a part of life. No one gets out alive. I consider working at a morgue or at a funeral home to be morbid and something about cutting dead people up like morticians do is me, sewing their lips up and putting make up on them :P putting their tongue back in their mouths, making sure their eyelids are closed...ok, need more? Ha
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    Jul 10 2013: Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans - John Lennon.
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    Jul 10 2013: When I was growing up, it was customary for young people to take advantage of opportunities to experiment. I don't know many people of any age who think deliberately about material wealth, but many think about being able to cover expenses such as you mention. Many notice that it takes resources to do things they are interested in doing, like traveling overseas. As some of the adventures they may want to experience cost money, if they want to do those things, they need to earn enough to cover it, unless someone picks up those expenses for them.

    Are you sure your family and culture urge you to maximize your income, drive a shiny new car, and have a big house? This sounds a little bit like a caricature that you have constructed to position yourself against.

    My son is fifteen and I greatly doubt he believes the culture sends him any such message. I am sure he feels encouraged to pursue his education in order to have an interesting career and life through which he can contribute.
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      Jul 10 2013: Many young people do take advantage of opportunities to experiment, but whether it is supported is a different question. My family has a negative view of travel and wants me to remain close by. This is probably due to our tight knit family values, where one puts family first and your own personal needs second. So, when an adult says no it's no, due to the deep honor and respect we've been taught since children.

      When I say my culture pushes me towards a "shiny car, big house" it is a stereotype of the American Dream, not the literal future my parents have planned.

      Different culture, different values. I'm happy your son feels encouraged to pursue an interesting career, continue to support him because even if we don't show it too often, it really does matter to us teens.

      Thank you, I realize I can be a bit biased, since but it's not the caricature I'm positioning myself against, but the tradition and lack of family support. Again thank you.
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        Jul 11 2013: Lack of family support seems to be normal these days, it comes from their fears.
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        Jul 11 2013: @Mary Vidaurri

        "This is probably due to our tight knit family values, where one puts family first and your own personal needs second. So, when an adult says no it's no, due to the deep honor and respect we've been taught since children."

        I wanna' MEET your Mom & Dad! I want to shake your father's hand & tell him! I want to look him in the eye & say: "You must be so proud!" And your mother! I would be honored to be in the same room as such a woman! I would go to church & say a prayer - that her hopes & dreams for you should become true & real! Don't you ever stop listening to the people who taught you that thing you said. You said it here and I quote what you said above!

        If you got that much from your parents, you got something from them that money will NEVER buy! And don't you ever let go of anything that is that wonderful and that important! Your parents have taught you something. Keep that!

        You mentioned death. Everyone dies. Your parents will die before you do. Mine did. When your time comes, remember them. They might be waiting for you after you die. Maybe not. But maybe so. Either way, you go live the way they taught you! You are too young to know the truth about how mean the world can be to all of us. But keep what they taught you. You have so much. Don't lose that.

        If your parents taught you faith - keep that. There is precious, ancient wisdom in the faith they give you. They know that. You should too! When your parents are gone, the faith they gave you is one way you keep them with you. After they die, that is important. And for your family too when you have one.

        Sure, you can doubt. Maybe Atheism makes more sense some days. But that's nothing new. If your parents have a faith, learn it. Learn it well - even if you learn it only out of respect for them or because they make you. Learn it. Some day it might be all you have left. If so, have something to live for & believe. W/o faith you always die slow.
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          Jul 13 2013: Thank you, I will always treasure and respect the lessons my parents passed down to me because they have been life-tested. Even as an atheist or nihilist, I still find Christianity to be a beautiful story, I pray before each meal with my family, attend service, and still hold many of the values I've been taught from scripture.

          I simply "deny the possibility of knowledge of truth". I wish my family would accept my views and the fact that I have a different perspective on life, but I don't love them any less for it:) Thanks.
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          Jul 13 2013: Just wanted to join in if you don't mind guys.

          These family knit values are mostly prevalent in christian families. My whole family are christians and a lot of pressure falls on me to be a good christian. A bad haircut yesterday almost brought my mom to tears. I get very angry on all this pressure and i find myself thinking wrong stuffs. I was taught from my childhood christian values and many times I have found myself conflicted with things I want to do and things I should do.

          The faith that has been passed to me is very important to me but many times I have found myself doubting in what I believe. I know it will pass away but also, I have found myself thinking if religion is all fake. I don't know for sure but what have we got to loose, so I have trust and i just go with it.

          "Some day it might be all you have left. If so, have something to live for & believe."
          That makes a lot of sense suddenly. Thanks Juan.
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          Jul 14 2013: "Some of the worst mistakes in my life have been bad haircuts" - Jim Morrison

          I know the haircut situation...I recently got a pixie cut and everyone was shocked, in my family girls have long hair it's one of the main things which distinguishes them as female and a huge part of their femininity :P so I basically committed sacrilege. I think you can understand the ensuing frustration...though I don't regret my decision.

          As for doing "things I want to do and things I should do" I've found doing the thing I want to do rather than what I should do often backfires. Just because one questions their faith or stops believing doesn't mean you've lost any of your morals or conscience.

          "Someday it might be all you have left" when I stopped believing in a superior power I was lead to the conclusion that life has no meaning, so nothing matters, which leads to nothing is worth doing and I think you'll agree that their are many, many things worth doing lol.
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    Jul 23 2013: As another teenager, I understand your situation where you are bombarded with people asking what you want to do when you grow up and people going down the traditional path of university and then high paying job then set for life.

    When people ask me what I want to do when I grow up, I just reply with "i want to do something that makes me happy no matter if it's a job or a hobby". Might be hard to convince the family because all they want is the best life you can have, but in some cases you just have to trust your gut and hope it lead you down the right path in the end.

    So im just another person in your shoes that might be heading in the direction of the leap, I know there will be some hardships, but that's just another part of the journey.

    Good luck!! Hope this helped :)
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    Jul 23 2013: I think Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), summed it up smartly in this sparse summery:

    "Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

    Some of the intense feelings of freedom and contentment I've experienced were on a sail boat.
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    Jul 16 2013: Hi

    Money is good if its your servant.

    Money is evil if its your master.
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    Jul 15 2013: well, of course you have to please yourself first, not your family. But you don't actually talk too much about what you value besides travel. What are your values? I'm 53, I think travel is great, but I think one can have many adventures without going more than a mile or two beyond home.

    Don't forget that having a nice house and car isn't necessarily empty, for some that could be quite fulfilling.

    As I lived I decided that the best life for me would be dairy farming. It struck me that it was very healthy, outdoors, working with living things, drinking a lot of milk which is a healthy, delicious food. But I haven't done it mainly because I don't have a wife, and I think it's kind of hard for a single man to make a go of a dairy farm. For example, what do you do when you have to leave the cows and go into town for supplies, who watches the cows? Of course, when you have a dairy you probably can't travel too much as cows have to be milked every day.
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      Jul 16 2013: I love that "the best life for you would be dairy farming" I agree with your statements. I myself have several citrus tree's (mostly orange and lime), a guava and pomegranate tree, along with a coop of chickens for fresh eggs:) A healthy and fit lifestyle is definitely one of my priorities, dairy farming sounds great I wish it was be easier for you to take care of them.

      I value being able to live independently, a good quality education (not the cookie-cutter system we've fallen prey to) creativity and the ability to express it. I value my family, and my community as well as the individuals around me.
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        Jul 16 2013: Thanks, Mary, you sound really cool. Well, when I was looking at your question again, I was asking myself why a person can't have both. Why can't a person have an adventurous life where they contribute to society, and also have a high level of material comfort? I mean, actually, people who work hard to have material comfort often also have great adventures, for example a top executive in a company gets to travel, gets to have relationships with many people, gets to be creative and help create and produce the company's products, probably finds ways to contribute to charity and the public good. And even the people who aren't at the very top of the company get to do many of these things. So I wouldn't necessarily scorn a traditional work lifestyle, it can be a very adventurous life.

        Of course there can be other reasons not to choose that life. Maybe you don't want the responsibilities of a big house, or the effort of managing a larger amount of money. That's fine, too, different people approach life differently.

        If you really want to emphasize travel, you might try to think of jobs that involve travel. Do you have any interest in photography, I could imagine that some photographers get to travel a lot. Any interest in being an entertainer, entertainers get to travel a lot. Some sales jobs get to travel a lot. Some politicians get to travel a lot, but it might only be the politicians in the top jobs, and that's a lot of work, but maybe you're up for it.
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          Jul 16 2013: Thanks, Greg, I've been thinking the same thing, I've been gravitating towards environmental writing, perhaps as a journalist. There'd be plenty of opportunities to travel and contribute back to society while being paid, or as ESL teacher aboard, there's plenty more I'm sure it's simply a matter of looking into it, thanks
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        Jul 17 2013: Thanks, Mary. Journalism would be another good field if you wanted to travel. But it could be a problem if you still want to have those chickens and citrus trees, because don't chickens require daily care, and if you're away covering a story, how will you care for them? If you had to choose between the two lifestyles, which would you choose, the more tied-to-home farm type style, or the job-where-you-travel one?

        Maybe you can find a way to do both. For example, if you were married, and you had to travel to cover a story, perhaps your husband could take care of the chickens while you're away.

        If you're interested in environmental journalism, you could check out the profile of my old Stanford friend, Scott Slovic. We became friends in freshman dorm at Stanford 30 years ago, and still have a nice connection. He is a professor in Idaho, his specialty is environment and literature, he teaches about authors who write about the environment in a way where they mix together science and their own personal feelings about nature. His profile page is at His email address is If you wrote to him I'm sure he'd help you figure out what you could study, where the best programs are, and so on. You could certainly mention my name.

        If you really think you might work as an environmental journalist, is there anything you could do while still in high school to prepare, for example you might want to take some science classes if you're not doing it already. Really, you could do some environmental journalism now if you were ambitious, you could probably find subjects to cover for your high school paper or even your town newspaper, or you can write letters to the editor and they might get published.
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    Jul 15 2013: Hi Mary , be happy.

    Aim and work to remain always happy, everything else will fall in line.
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    Jul 14 2013: This is by far one of the best conversation here on TED. Apart from a genuine question from a young person that many senior people do not have a clue about, I think it is wonderful that energetic inquiry of youth is pitting against the wisdom of age and experience here.
    Sometimes I feel there should be more young persons here on TED conversations, that seem to be dominated by sages :) I wish this because, I don't want to miss the opportunity to learn from the young ones.
    My good friend Juan's comments below are prophetic and brings out the truly human nature of compassionate learning.
    All the best.
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    Jul 13 2013: Importance on material gain differ from person to person.

    I want a luxurious life, no lies. I want to live a happy and satisfied and comfortable life. As long as we are on earth, we will need material gain to live a comfy life. No one wants hardships.

    Its just my view on material gain. Maybe I'm wrong but i'm gonna stick to this for now.
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    Jul 13 2013: Hi there Mary, finally someone of my age group on TED and also, one that faces the same things as me and moreover, we share the same views on life. We have so much in similar. You have no idea how I feel right now knowing that there are actually people like me.

    I'm also pushed into a traditional way of life. I'm so different from the rest of the crowd. it sometimes feels funny that so many fail to recognize that. My whole life has been me doing things out of the ordinary. All my dreams in life were, are and will be out of the ordinary. I just cannot do things just for the sake of social norm or stability. I'm kind of a risk-taker although I'm yet to prove it to everyone.

    I can't give you any advice or suggestions other than to follow what you are meant to do. Everyone that have done something really awesome were the ones that we out of the ordinary, As for me, I'll continue being different and have an awesome life living an out of the ordinary life, hopefully with someone thats like me. I'll be turning 18 in sep.

    Let me tell you about me.
    I want to bring change to my community and slowly to the world. I want to travel to every corner of the world and spend at least a week on a new place. I want to perform as a DJ in every dance festival around the world like Tomorrowland, Ultra Music Festival, Sunburn, etc. I want to shoot and direct at least 15 movies in my life. I want to be with someone thats like me. I want to eat food from every corner of the world. I want to travel on a ship.I want to go to space. I want to change the life of all my friends that have no understanding of the functioning of the world; i want them to be able to live a happy life. I want to do every adrenaline sport atleast once in my life, even if it means risking my life. I have all these dreams and wishes, most of which will never come true but I want to atleast try.

    We are given 1 life and I want to make it the best of it and an amazing experience, not only for me but for everyone.

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      Jul 14 2013: Hola Simon, I think I do have a clue on how it feels to find that there are similar people out there in the world :) Also I'm pretty different from the rest of the crowd too. a teacher once commented that "I was an outsider of the outsiders" lol, it's nice to know that there is someone capable of understanding.

      I don't want to live a conventional lifestyle either, I want to explore, travel, live a random fulfilling and somewhat unpredictable life. And yet at the same time there's the pressure to be practical, and knowing that money is also essential to live comfortably.

      Being a DJ sounds interesting you'll have to tell me about that, though I'm pretty sure we'll have really different musical tastes. I have a lot of the same aspirations, and I don't think I could ever forgive myself if I don't try to reach them. Though I wonder if I couldn't give back more to my community by pursuing a "practical" career in healthcare.

      Thanks for sharing, "You only live once, but if you do it right once is enough" - Mae West
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        Jul 14 2013: Musical interests depends on person to person, so does artistic interests. What kind of music interests you?

        What do you dream to do in life? Whats your basic life motivation?

        And,how does material gain matter to you?
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          Jul 14 2013: I hope those weren't rhetorical questions lol..."Life without music would be a mistake" - Nietzsche

          I listen to a wide range of music, from folk/indie, to more psychedelic funk, alternative, classics (The Beatles, Janis Joplin), rock n roll 50's - 80's. Most recently Streetlight Manifesto (ska-punk). I could talk all day about music and movies.

          I dream of being an editor/writer, backpacking across countries, working for National Geographic, happiness is better shared w/ someone else, maybe finding someone along the way, but yeah writing is my big dream.

          Every morning I get up and I decide the meaning life will have that day. My love of art, reading, cooking, movies, chocolate, and blue skies get me out of bed. How corny is that? But I do believe it's things we love which motivate us to live, otherwise what's the point?

          Material gain...I don't want to just "exist" a person needs enough money and time to fully "live". There's a big difference between the two, "living" and "existing". Material gain matters in that it enables us to express our creativity and fully explore our desires, and that matters a great deal to me.

          What type of music interests you? I'm a curious person...I'd love to talk more and compare our two cultures (Hispanic and Indian) and about movies, food, art, traveling, etc. would you mind if I sent an email? I think there's a lot we could learn from each other...if you're interested.

          Thanks if you took the time to read this:)
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        Jul 15 2013: Of course I read the whole thing. And please, you really don't need to thank anyone for that. Everyone here loves to read and write and I'll say, it was really nice reading your dreams and wishes.

        Guess what, we have so much more in common. Since my childhood, I always wanted to be a tv presenter like those on Discovery, NatGeo, Animal Planet and others. I loved watching these channels and even now, I download whole series's from the internet and watch them go to amazing places and talk and explore various regions and tastes on the earth. Is was these shows that gave me the interest and love for travelling and exploration. Even recently, I was checking out NatGeo's website for career options as a presenter.

        Our music interests are different though. I'm mainly interested in current music but most importantly, I love dance music. I love almost all genre's of dance music from trance to hardstyle to dubstep to glitch to whatever. I'm also a dance music producer and DJ by profession. So, dance music is what keeps me happy and its my love. besides EDM(electronic dance music), I like every genre. I listen to all the latest music like the top musics on the charts or otherwise and my music library is updated weekly with music I like (almost 900GB of music). I listen to a lot of indie music too.

        And yes,material gain is important to me too as I said above. And what you said is true that it enables us to express our creativity and explore our desires. Without material gain,my life would be incomplete. Its not like I'm crazy for material gain, its just that its very necessary to live.

        Please feel free to e-mail me or Facebook me or whatever you want. I'd love a friend that is like me and can understand me. Yes,we could talk about a lot of things, literally everything since we have the same interests.
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    Jul 13 2013: Thanks, I love your advice...I'm going to look more into co-op lifestyle it sounds great!
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    Jul 13 2013: Dear Mary,
    Some 30 years ago, my family and culture did the same thing to me. Families want to see itheir members prosper and parents want to see their children achieving things they could not. But there is no point living your life along anybody else's dream.

    Having said that, stop and ponder about your dreams too. You are the child of Information Age. Invest your best in being informed.

    The economic paradigm you are living now, is changing. In days to come the single most human concern will be environment. If you cannot help stop it degrading beyond unlivable, at least don't add to us the wasteful generation.
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    Jul 13 2013: Mary - Congratulations on the Associates Degree. Now finish High School. What's your Associates in - what's your best subject & what did you like best about college?

    Pharmacy vs. English? Go with the Pharmacy program. You can always pick up the English & literature stuff later. But Pharmacy is one of the most lucrative fields that you can get into right now. The work isn't overwhelmingly stressful (not like Medicine or nursing) but a PharmD can be completed in six years. Starting salaries are very high. A few years back, the demand was so high for Registered Pharmacists that the V.A. was paying higher yearly salaries to the new Pharmacists they hired than they were paying to Family Practice Physicians. The Pharmacists were fully qualified after six years of college. The Family Practice Physicians were working off of 4 years college for a Bachelor's Degree; 4 years of medical school; & 3 years of Family Medicine Residency training. That's 11 years of training vs. 6 years in pharmacy. PharmD is definitely the way to go. In this world, you just can't argue with financial security.

    You can always live according to your conscience. You can live w/in your means. Work with/for charity. Your options are endless - but money always multiplies your choices. A wise man once said that money does not make you happy. Money ONLY makes you more of what you already ARE. They way you talk about your family, your heritage, & your values, it looks like you have a good foundation for knowing who you are. It's just knowing what you WANT

    There are a whole bunch of baby boomers out here (like me) who aren't going to do much but get older. So healthcare is the wave of the future. That's just how the future is going to be.

    Better to get a marketable job skill while you are still young. I am not an advocate for greed. My family & I live quite happily on very little. In fact, much less than I had planned. But having money is always better than needing money.
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      Jul 13 2013: I'll have a degree in English, and no surprise English is my best subject. I loved my English and History classes the most, especially my professors. I enjoyed the after class talks, listening to them rant, and the constructive criticism I would receive from them. I would NOT enjoy a huge college with little personal communication with my profs.

      Both my aunts have been working in the pharmacy business for over ten years now, so I could easily get a job and the local pharmacy program finishes the degree in less time than traditional, plus most of my college hours would transfer, unlike an out of state university. So it's no wonder they want me to take that road.

      It's just so hard to give up an opportunity to study in New York, but then it's more practical to stay here in Texas. Trouble is I worry I'll be settling down here in Texas, the university is 15 min. away from where I live and I want to meet people, experience diff. cultures, and well, live.

      But like you said I could always do that stuff later I'll be getting a degree in my early 20's so there's still time.
  • Jul 11 2013: I believed one of possible answer rely on opposite set of vaue when we are younger and older. Death and sick are unlikely to happen when i am young. Therefore my focus was on success and being sexually attractive. It is very difficult for youngster to perceive the same value set of older man unless you were very sick or having near death experience. Just being aware that your core value will be changing with your future experiences. When your core values change, you will automatically optimize time in spiritual happiness and sexual happiness. Get expose to the truth of life as much as u can and you will always get the right answer for yourself.
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      Jul 10 2013: Thanks, perhaps setting up a career and then adventuring might be the best compromise.
      Also love the book thus far, thanks.
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          Jul 11 2013: Wow! That's amazing!
          Maybe a bit of adventuring on the side wouldn't hurt:)

          I've gone on a trip to Washington D.C w/ a volunteer program,
          But South America...I dont know anyone who's been there:0

          Your words have been really inspiring, thank you!
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          Jul 13 2013: Dude, you have to tell me everything about that South America trip you made selling surf-boards on the way.

          I'm soo excited to hear your story, I could just leave everything right now, and do the same as you.
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    Jul 10 2013: Figure out what your goals are and align your activities to those goals. Without goals you are boat without a rudder.
  • Jul 10 2013: If you really want to reach the goals you mentioned and do it sooner rather then later-here is just one idea- become a photographer (really got to be a good one I might add). They can travel the globe & meet & see all sorts of wonderful things & get paid to do it.
    That is just one of many fields where you can meet your goals!
    Ever heard the comment: "Step out of the box"? Ya can you know, do just that and you might even enjoy it more.