“If not you, then who? If not now, then when?”
– Hillel the Elder
I used to be one of those people who put everything off for “one day”.
One day I’ll have all the money I need, and then I’ll be happy. One day I’ll have the perfect job, the perfect life, and THEN I’ll be happy.
But after enough years of continuing this cycle, this habit of putting off all my peace and happiness for a future day.
But if you push everything off to tomorrow, then it will always be something for the future version of yourself to enjoy, never for you. Never for the now.
“Every man has two lives, the second begins when he realizes he only has one”
See, I grew up in a household where luxuries were minimal. In a city where sometimes it feels like stability is a luxury.
I never knew much anything about savings accounts, 401k’s, or investment portfolios. There were times with no washer or dryer, or times when sharing one soda at dinner among all of my siblings was considered lucky. I have woken up covered in bed bugs and cockroaches, I have watched friends I loved and people I know throw their lives away to drugs, or crime, even people serving life in prison NOW for things they can never take back.
I knew at a young age that life was tough. I knew my community was broken, my family was broken. But, I didn’t know how I could help to fix it. What could I do? I’m a nobody.
But I set my gaze forward and promised myself If I could make it out of this, then I could get my family out, my friends out, my community out, if I could just figure it out, then maybe I could help others to do the same.
So when I was young, I set my vision on anything but what I saw around me. My mom used to say I was the “white sheep” of the family.
But really, I felt like an outcast, and so I found a way to fit in wherever I could get in, squeezing my way into rooms and opportunities I was unprepared for, that I was not ready for. I figured, if someone just gave me a shot, then I could make it.
Well after countless jobs, after switching my majors multiple times, after seemingly endless jumps from this thing to that thing. One day I found myself sitting in a chair donating plasma for some extra money watching a “How to Start a Blog” YouTube Video from Create and Go.
Little did I know, that video was going to change my life forever.
Alex and Lauren sold me, they felt so human, they made me feel like, if these normal people can figure out how to create a living online, maybe I can too.
I decided, ya know what? What do I have to lose? I don’t have anything. There aren’t any magical opportunities waiting for me, there are no fancy scholarships, no one was coming to save me, and they damn sure weren’t going to save my family, my friends, my community.
So I decided if I won’t who will? If not me, then who? But the burden was so heavy, I couldn’t even pay my own bills. Much less help my parents who couldn’t pay for theirs. I couldn’t figure out how to actually keep my money, it always seemed to slip through my fingers.
I couldn’t figure out how to keep myself healthy, in any dimension of my life, financially, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. I just didn’t have any foundation for a healthy life. I only had the lessons my family and incredible friends sent me into the world with, many I am eternally grateful for.
But how was that going to be enough? The task felt too tall. It felt like I needed to change the world. But I am just one person… how could I?
“Everyone wants to change the world, but no one wants to help mom with the dishes.” – PJ O’Rourke, or probably some Buddhist monk
But, I quickly realized, that every large step is made up of the thousand little steps that came before it.
So I didn’t set out to change anything for anyone, I just set out, hoping I might see the answer along the way.
I didn’t set out to change the world, I decided I would just try and help mom with the dishes.
– Noah Riggs
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