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Mod note (Andy): Throwback Thursday, this post originally went up on 7/11/12.

I promised a few people some long overdue wisdom, but haven't had the motivation lately to actually write something up. But after reading this post, I'm inspired to write a foil piece that details my [rather unorthodox] path to manhood and the perspective on life that it's caused me to have.

I assume right away that most people will not agree with a lot of it, possibly take offense to some of it, and it may ultimately depress a few readers as well. But I'm only here to impart my wisdom on the kids who may have some misguided beliefs about the way the real world works, and hopefully at least one person can take something away from this that helps them see their own lives a bit clearer.

So below is my list of things I've either done or wish I'd done by the time I was "grown up," which for me I think happened around age 20-21. I'd like to think that's earlier than most, but there's good reason for it and it will be included in my list. Here goes:

1. Question Every Authority, Even Your Parents
Parents are people too. And people make lots of mistakes. They don't always know what's best for you, and you might realize one day that maybe they never did. I love my parents to death and I think they're one of the key reasons why I've become the person I am today, but some of those reasons are because I went against them and what they tried to tell me ended up being wrong. Question the school system, question the government. Why do these groups of people know better than I do? If you're always questioning then you're always thinking for yourself, and sometimes you'll agree with what the consensus is, but it's a lot better to arrive at your own conclusions using your own brand of logic. At least then you'll be confident. Oh and there's one more institution you should probably question, which is to...

2. Consider at Least 2 Religions
Touchy subject, right? I didn't say practice, I didn't say believe, I said consider. This is just another form of thinking for yourself. Maybe you grew up Catholic, why not take up studying Hinduism or Mormonism? There's tons of other people out there who strongly believe (and quite a few who are willing to die for it) that their faith is the way the world was set up and the way they need to live their lives. Think about how powerful that is - how come we can believe two entirely different things like that so strongly? Is it because someone told us to? [Probably.] Everyone's conclusions will be different. I know people who have done this and the experience caused them to appreciate their own religion so much more than before. Personally, I did this and concluded that it's probable that none of us are actually right. But it's helpful to think through it. Again, force yourself to think about why you are who you are. Once you do that, you'll probably...

3. Realize that You Aren't Special
I made the mistake growing up thinking that because I'm me, there's no way that what happened to this person or that person could ever happen to me. Because I'm me, things will be different than they were for the guy who did the exact same stuff I'm doing and turned out to be a complete failure. Your parents are wrong - you're just like everyone else. You're a human being with skin and hair and you walk on two feet and think with a brain. There is nothing magical about you, and you're not entitled to anything more than anybody else. And don't expect yourself to be happy all the time while every other animal on the planet can just "be." If a situation requires you to work your ass off, you damn well better work your ass off. Nobody ever got anywhere complaining about how unfair things were for them, no matter how awful their circumstances were. Accept them and only look at what you can do to get where you want to be, not how you can try and take a shortcut because somehow you think you're "different." Once you do that, you'll eventually succeed, but not before you...

4. Make as Many Mistakes as Possible
I've written the book on this one. Whether it's with girls, in school, at home, or anywhere else, if there's a f*ck-up to be made, I've definitely made it. The big thing to remember here is the only way to make a lot of mistakes is if you first try a lot of things.

Anyone who can make up an excuse for why they haven't tried something at least once is destined to be a failure.

The more mistakes you make, the more things you know don't work, and it starts narrowing down how many things could actually be right. Another word for this that some of you might be unfamiliar with is EXPERIENCE. It's 1000x more important than grades, scores, stats, or who your daddy is. Experience is just the sum of all that you've learned from your past mistakes. Oh, and one mistake that was a hell of an experience was when I decided to...

5. Try at Least a Few Different Drugs
I know, I know. He's really advocating drug use?! No, not really, but I truly believe there are positives to responsibly using the right drugs. You don't know everything about yourself until you've followed your thoughts under the influence. Some people think weed is enough, I never did. Some psychadelics can make you really think outside of your normally filtered conscious mind. Every time I experimented with a new drug, [usually] responsibly, I came away with having learned something new and legitimately useful about myself that helped me see the world a bit clearer. Unfortunately, as some of you know, I'm not the best person to listen to about this because thanks to drugs I once had to...

6. Undergo a Near-Death Experience
I'm not suggesting you stand in front of a train and try to jump out of the way at the last second. But more people than you'd imagine have had this happen to them and I think those people are absolutely invaluable resources for wisdom in regards to how their view of certain things changed. I've unfortunately had multiple NDEs, but looking back they help you realize that your life is very easily taken away. Stupid shit like target schools and pitch books stop being even remotely important. Go talk to someone who legitimately had a near-death experience, and just ask them about the things they thought about losing when they almost died. Not to make this longer than it should be but I'll go into a little detail of my own, and maybe anyone with similar experiences can contradict or confirm. I was never afraid I was going to die, I was just more sad about what I was leaving behind. Dying meant no more sitting in diners with the girl I loved drinking coffee and talking bullshit. Dying meant no more trips to the cottage and seeing my dog run in circles around the house because he's just so goddamn excited to be there. And dying meant not being able to pay my family and friends back for everything they'd done for me. Now those are the things that are actually important to me. I was never afraid about losing my apartment or my bonus or no more one night stands. Once you know what you truly value, you'll start to...

7. Understand that Life is Not Meant to Be Serious
There's really not much to say here. Life continues to go on regardless of what happens around us, and even if the things you decided are most dear to you are gone one day, you'll find a way to move on. Life is as far removed from serious as one can get. With that attitude you'll find yourself acting a lot more naturally, and I'd venture to guess that about 95% of the people on this site should probably give this one some solid consideration. If I die tomorrow, screw it, I'm dead. If I get fired tomorrow, screw it, it's not like I'm dead. Oh wait, even that's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things is it? Just relax and enjoy yourself, it's a privilege that we're here to begin with, it's all been extra credit since the day you were born. Even getting laid isn't a serious matter. In fact, when it comes to women...

8. Realize that a Woman [or Man] is Just Another Person Trying to Get By
Some of you guys might have a hard time with this one, seeing as 60% of the posts on this site are about chicks and getting laid and spitting game and all that bullshit. It took me the better part of maybe 20 one-night stands to realize that the game is totally blown out of proportion. Not only did it lose its excitement, I started feeling bad for her, for other guys out there trying to "get some," and for the entire human race. This chick is just another insecure person just like me doing her best to fit in and not hate herself in the morning. The sad part is she's doing a miserable job at it. So guys: stop putting it on a pedestal, it's lame and so are you if you do. Girls: if you haven't noticed already we're all pretty messed up and you're no different. So if gettin' laid is your thing, go ahead and do it, but don't beat yourself up about it if you're not. Nobody's "doing better" than you because of it, and despite what stigma society tries to attach to it, to me it's really no different than a high-five. Society does this pretty often, but if you're smart you'll...

9. Run from Anything that Everyone Agrees On
Most people are overwhelmingly stupid. They have no clue what they want and no clue how to get it even if they did. There's a reason it's called a "herd mentality," because we're all about as intellectually independent as a group of water buffalo, and we all saw what a few white dudes with rifles did to them. If everyone thinks the same way, you can almost guarantee that it's A) irrational B) benefiting a minority of people C) completely inaccurate. Go back and look at all the things we universally agree on without thinking about them. Mr. Carlin provides a pretty good list of blindly accepted herd mentality mantras: All Men are Equal, Justice is Blind, the Press is Free, Your Vote Counts. I think you get the point.

--------------------------------------------------------------

Again, logic. We don't try it enough, but if you get comfortable with the idea of using it by the time you're an adult, you'll come away a lot more successful in your life. And we all agree that being successful means being happy, right? Well I'm glad we all universally agree on that, so go out there and find your happy place!.....

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Comments (121)

  • Macro Arbitrage's picture

    I have to applaud this list. Quite aptly summarizes the last decade or so with the exception of number 2- I don't believe in fairy tales.

  • Frieds's picture

    BH, +1 - Especially points 3 and 4. I cannot stress this enough, but Failure is the measure of man, not his success. The more mistakes we make, the more we fail, the more we really learn. Always succeeding doesn't prepare us for what happens if we don't succeed and how to handle it. We also don't learn from our successes how to improve ourselves.

  • Amphipathic's picture

    Agree 100% on point 7, I didn't stop take life so seriously until my mid 20s, and things are so much more pleasant now.

  • BlackHat's picture

    So upset that related content is "Should've Joined a Frat," but other than that...

    I hate victims who respect their executioners

  • JDimon's picture

    Not sure how I feel about number 7. Part of being an adult is realizing you have responsibilities to yourself, to other people, and to other people, and to always do your best

  • Neighbor's picture

    DEFINITELY agree with number 5

    I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

  • vik2012's picture

    disagree with 5- drugs aren't so easy to just try and walk away, especially if someone is trying different drugs, not a single time. Can lead to a habit " just to try"
    6- undergoing a near-death experience is different than talking to someone who did. You can't really create this type of experience, unless you are suicidal or on drugs (refer to #5)
    But rather than that- Great post, loved it!

    nb

  • APAE's picture

    I think the only caveat would be your 5th point. I think one thing many very smart people neglect to do is know themselves inside and out. If you have a remotely addictive personality, a lack of self-control, or some kind of underlying neurosis (which you may not even know about), experimenting with drugs can put you on a very dark path you'll struggle immensely to remove yourself from.

    Overall I heartily agree.

    Most people do things to add days to their life. I do things to add life to my days.

    Browse my blog as a WSO contributing author

  • Ravenous's picture

    "Most people are overwhelmingly stupid."

    /thread

    +1

  • Febreeze's picture

    Good thing "secure a job" isn't on this list. I feel accomplished.

  • 3176401's picture

    Great post BlackHat, will keep this in mind as I start college; but, like many others have said, I don't think I'm gonna experiment with drugs lol.

  • JDawg's picture

    yo dawg which drugz should I try out? shrooms? acid?

    good post though. I think #7 is the most important.

  • onemanwolfpack's picture

    Great list - I had a near death experience going into my senior year of college and life has never been the same. Went from stressing about all facets about my life to just enjoying it. Asked a girl out at a bus stop on my way to work and 4 years later, we're getting married this Fall.

  • In reply to onemanwolfpack
    BlackHat's picture

    onemanwolfpack wrote:
    Great list - I had a near death experience going into my senior year of college and life has never been the same. Went from stressing about all facets about my life to just enjoying it. Asked a girl out at a bus stop on my way to work and 4 years later, we're getting married this Fall.

    This. This. This.

    I hate victims who respect their executioners

  • BTbanker's picture

    I see what you did there (#5,6)... Trying to kill the WSO demographic, thus eliminating potential future competition.

  • FeelingMean's picture

    This is a great post. Agree with all of them, and can attest to # 6. Struggling with #7.

    Thanks Blackhat.

    "That dude is so haole, he don't even have any breath left."

  • goodL1fe's picture

    Great post! Which drugs did you try?

    Robert Clayton Dean: What is happening?
    Brill: I blew up the building.
    Robert Clayton Dean: Why?
    Brill: Because you made a phone call.

  • redherring's picture
  • seabird's picture

    Another list

    “...all truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

    - Schopenhauer

  • ULNWI's picture
  • Futures Trader Man's picture

    BH this is an excellent post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us buddy

    "Well, you know, I was a human being before I became a businessman." -- George Soros

  • sick_willy's picture

    #7 definitely struck a chord with me. I'm turning 25 soon and have slowly started to realize this on my own. Time to fully embrace it

    ---------------------------
    BossMode

  • Human's picture

    Other than #5, I agree with everything. Great post. Thank you for putting this together.

    "I am the hero of the story. I don't need to be saved."

  • couchy's picture

    heres what you should've been doing when you were 12

  • Edmundo Braverman's picture

    Excellent post. Really excellent. +1

    And you're absolutely correct about the drug use. I was virulently anti-drug throughout my teens, basically until I got to Wall Street. They don't call it mind expanding for nothing.

  • Brady4MVP's picture

    Amazing post, black hat. Very well done. I agree with almost everything except the drug part.

    One thing I wish I did more of when I was younger was sleep with more women. That's actually my biggest regret of my college experience, aside from not majoring in computer science or finance. Hopefully I can get a social do-over in b-school and live out my fantasies for 2 years!

  • Asatar's picture

    Fantastic post - definitely agree on the 'dont take life too seriously'.

  • In reply to couchy
    BlackHat's picture

    couchy wrote:
    heres what you should've been doing when you were 12

    What do you want to do when you grow up?
    -"Make Money."

    Unreal...

    I hate victims who respect their executioners

  • Knowledge Kick's picture

    This is really well written. Possibly my favorite post since I signed up.

    http://DollarDrip.com Username: Knowledge Kick

  • analyst-therapist's picture

    Great list, I think the best thing on here is think for yourself and realize your parents are fallible. Definitely something that took me too long to figure out.

    also i dont get all the hate on #5, I think this is a great point despite what the highschoolers on WSO seem to think.

  • Jeenyus's picture

    Impressive reading - #5 and #6 are spot on

    On near-death experiences - I had two very close calls in a 9-month period a few years ago (one skydiving-related, the other due to plain stupidity) - together they rocked my entire approach to life and helped me make some tough but necessary decisions like getting out of a messed up relationship

  • George87's picture

    Great post! +1 SB. #7 I think is the best one.

  • neilol's picture

    BlackHat wrote:

    9. Run from Anything that Everyone Agrees On
    Most people are overwhelmingly stupid. They have no clue what they want and no clue how to get it even if they did. There's a reason it's called a "herd mentality," because we're all about as intellectually independent as a group of water buffalo, and we all saw what a few white dudes with rifles did to them. If everyone thinks the same way, you can almost guarantee that it's A) irrational B) benefiting a minority of people C) completely inaccurate.

    /agree #9

    One of the better posts on here in a while

  • In reply to Macro Arbitrage
    Scott Irish's picture

    Macro Arbitrage wrote:
    I have to applaud this list. Quite aptly summarizes the last decade or so with the exception of number 2- I don't believe in fairy tales.

    Thanks for the steamer. Of course, anyone who puts any actual thought into #2 isn't improving his financial outlook or exit opps. I'm not advocating one religion or any necessarily, but you do understand that the biggest fairy tale is the one most early twentysomethings on this site live, right? Everyone believes in some fairy tale or another.

  • Tolland15's picture

    One of the best posts I've seen on this site thus far, imo. Well written, and agree with every point made. If I had a silver banana or knew what a silver banana was, I'd probably give it to you.

    I was taught that the human brain was the crowning glory of evolution so far, but I think it's a very poor scheme for survival.

  • Miamimonkey's picture

    BlackHat, it is wisdom indeed, thank you for posting it. I would add a point, I think we need to be responsible for our actions, all the other 9 points should not be in conflict with my point.

  • ram15's picture

    Great post BlackHat, +1 SB. Definitely trying to accept #7.

  • bfin's picture

    Like all the advice you've ever given me,well written and extremely applicable, thank you.

    The answer to your question is 1) network 2) get involved 3) beef up your resume 4) repeat -happypantsmcgee

    WSO is not your personal search function.

  • Immortal1's picture

    Bravo. Always an interesting topic. Thanks for expanding our awareness

    "I want the last check I write to bounce."

  • animalz's picture

    Good, bright read BH, you are making some good posts. I like because you stay simple. Thanks for the time.

    Personally, I've had some different experience with the #5: I haven't ever tried any drugs.. even not cigarettes.
    Although I have put a joint in my mouth xyz times (usually because I wanted to get into some girl's pants or just not to be a party breaker), I would only get the smoke into my mouth and wouldn't inhale it. As a result I never got high from it or anything "external" (but I might have faked it a few times).

    My neighbourhood in my hometown is actually called (internally) Jamaica. Guess why :D I just came from a very hardcore sports background and since (abusing) drugs is a very big problem here, I was taught that (something like this on my language) "real ballers do sports, and pussies do drugs". I don't consider most of the drugs bad at all, and would allow them all to the 18-21+yo people; I just don't want to take them myself.. probably a thing of the principle.. I a type of a person that likes to keep a "perfect score" in some things, just for myself inside.

    However, I have been much into advanced meditation etc. so occult teachings were interesting to me (lol nobody knows until now :D ), and I started progressing too fast. Happened to me that couple of times I got very fucking far with that shit. Basically, I was not really prepared for such overwhelming experiences (compare it with what people call "(bad) trip" with LSD and mushrooms (but at least a level above), because the similar molecules produced by brain cause it). I must say that by far the "bad experiences" have made more powerful impression on me than the "good" ones. In the end, for me its positive as long as it's experience and will definitely give it much more time and learning as my life progress - I see huge potential there, but I'd like to "secure" a normal life, family etc. and fill the expectations of my parents, because thats the least I can do... before I take this road. Until then, I'll keep building an impressive base.

  • Senvik's picture

    Thanks a lot for the list. I would also add something along the lines of "be honest with yourself". Denial is a bitch and we're all guilty of it. The best antidote is to look deeeeep down inside your heart and find the answer regardless of consequences (obviously don't be stupid about it). Remember that time where you let your relationship go for way longer than it should have? Most of us do and most of us knew half way through that it's time to end it but didn't. Don't wait. People usually know what they really want deep down in their heart but find reasons and convince themselves otherwise to do what society or their parents think is right. Much like dropping out of college- huge taboo in our society but some people drop out, pursue their dreams, and end up incredibly successful. All of this is one huge gray zone but this thinking really helped me.

    "You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." - IlliniProgrammer

  • West Coast Analyst's picture

    re #6: an old acquaintance of mine's dad was supposed to be on one of the 9/11 planes but missed it due to oversleeping. he was pissed at himself for missing the flight and stressed out about it because he was going to miss some sort of business meeting. then he saw what happened on TV and he became a changed man, spending a lot more time w family and bought his kids new cars because money means nothing to him compared to happiness (probably a poor example but whatever)

  • In reply to Miamimonkey
    JDimon's picture

    Miamimonkey wrote:
    BlackHat, it is wisdom indeed, thank you for posting it. I would add a point, I think we need to be responsible for our actions, all the other 9 points should not be in conflict with my point.

    I like this.

  • In reply to animalz
    Edmundo Braverman's picture

    animalz wrote:
    Good, bright read BH, you are making some good posts. I like because you stay simple. Thanks for the time.

    Personally, I've had some different experience with the #5: I haven't ever tried any drugs.. even not cigarettes.
    Although I have put a joint in my mouth xyz times (usually because I wanted to get into some girl's pants or just not to be a party breaker), I would only get the smoke into my mouth and wouldn't inhale it. As a result I never got high from it or anything "external" (but I might have faked it a few times).

    My neighbourhood in my hometown is actually called (internally) Jamaica. Guess why :D I just came from a very hardcore sports background and since (abusing) drugs is a very big problem here, I was taught that (something like this on my language) "real ballers do sports, and pussies do drugs". I don't consider most of the drugs bad at all, and would allow them all to the 18-21+yo people; I just don't want to take them myself.. probably a thing of the principle.. I a type of a person that likes to keep a "perfect score" in some things, just for myself inside.

    However, I have been much into advanced meditation etc. so occult teachings were interesting to me (lol nobody knows until now :D ), and I started progressing too fast. Happened to me that couple of times I got very fucking far with that shit. Basically, I was not really prepared for such overwhelming experiences (compare it with what people call "(bad) trip" with LSD and mushrooms (but at least a level above), because the similar molecules produced by brain cause it). I must say that by far the "bad experiences" have made more powerful impression on me than the "good" ones. In the end, for me its positive as long as it's experience and will definitely give it much more time and learning as my life progress - I see huge potential there, but I'd like to "secure" a normal life, family etc. and fill the expectations of my parents, because thats the least I can do... before I take this road. Until then, I'll keep building an impressive base.

  • ballmouse's picture

    Don't really like the drugs suggestion. But would highly recommend studying abroad (can't believe this wasn't mentioned).

    In addition, try to do something that not everyone around you is doing. When you're in college, it is easy to be one of the crowd and just do what everyone else is doing. But be true to who you are (in the sense that don't forget who you were before college/whatever and don't be molded into what everyone is). Don't be scared to do something you've wanted to do just because no one else is doing it. It's your life, so don't feel pressured to live like everyone else.

  • HFFBALLfan123's picture

    BlackHat is one of the very few insightful posters remaining, kudos...

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