I’m not sure if it’s a function of advancing age or just the times we’re living in, but it’s almost impossible for me to find complete external validation in any one thought, desire, instinct or vision anymore.
Who do you want to be exactly like? Is there anybody in this world who’s laid down a template for your dreams and goals that you’d copy and paste over your own life’s story? Maybe you want to go to a music college as I did when I decided to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston. Start asking some alums whether it’s worth it and you’ll get two distinct answers. One half of the control group will tell you it’s not worth it, that you might as well just start a band and hit the road. The other half will tell you that it was the flash point for their music career and that without it they’d be nowhere. The answer depends on the experience had by each person you talk to. Maybe the “Nos” spent their semesters curled up in a ball fighting with their boyfriend or girlfriend on the phone and never applied themselves to making the most of the time there. You’ll never find the answer you want, just information with which to build your own idea and chart your own course.
Take your favorite artist, the one you look up to and see as the perfect specimen of talent, values, output, whatever the case may be - and someone else has a reason why they’re not worth even a passing glance. Is “Bob Dylan: Don’t Look Back” the documentary of a genius iconoclast or was he a self absorbed pseudo-intellectual bully? It depends on who you ask. Is Jay-Z the reigning king of hip hop or is he “all business” now? It depends on who you ask. I bring up both names because if you ask me, I put them at the top of my list of people who can do very little if no wrong at all, but it won’t take long to read someone’s opposing point of view. If you’re not sure of what you love, that means you can be talked out of it, and that’s a slippery slope.
Is your boyfriend cute? Was Hurt Locker the best movie of the year? Are you going to go out in those shoes? Should you take the promotion and move to Boston? Did I wear “Hammer” pants on stage in Houston or is Rick Owens a visionary clothing designer?
It all depends on who you ask.
Which is a pretty great reason to stop asking all together. Nobody’s life template will ever lay evenly over yours. And in those times when they clash completely, you have to walk alone, with confidence that you’re creating your own template, made out of your own instincts and your own dreams and your own goals. And if you do it long enough, maybe someone someday will look to yours as the life to model theirs after. Of course, some people won’t agree with them. It will all depend on who they ask.