Brandon, nobody owes you anything.

My man! Eleven is a big number and you’re maturing into an awesome young man. One of the best things about us is I’ve never had to treat you like a kid even though you still are one. You’ve got a chill head on your shoulders and you’ve had it easy thus far. But you know that’s going to come to an end at some point, right? I assure you, you’re not going to be hanging around the house playing video games until you’re a grown man unless it’s your own house. So here are a few things you need to build into your expectations of adulthood right about now.

That's how it was for all most of us kid.

That’s how it was for most of us kid.

Nobody owes you a career when you are finished school.

You are not owed a fulfilling career just because you studied something you thought was going to be in demand. Your education is only as valuable as you are relatable and likable. Whatever you’re good at, you’re going to need someone to give you a chance to do it, whether it be an employer or a customer. Don’t begrudge anybody who knows how to work a network or sell themselves. That’s talent in and of itself. I’ve always stressed it’s much easier to find a customer than it is to find an employer. If you are as good as you think you are, create a business and find some customers. Learn to leverage the intellect and efforts of others to create the work life you want. Stop thinking about what job you are going to find for yourself. Think about the job you are going to create for others. Don’t bitch about the economy, the government or anything else outside of your control. You need to be adaptable and look for inefficiencies around you. Nobody owes you a job no matter how impressive your degree might be.

Nobody owes you recognition.

You know those kids who win athletic or academic awards when you didn’t? It’s because they’re better than you at those things. They likely became better than you because they worked at it more than you did. Sure, nature plays a part but it’s probably because they cared more. Don’t begrudge others for kicking your ass because they probably kicked their own ass first. Don’t be one of those losers who gripe when others do well. You don’t see the hard work they put in. Nobody owes you a moment in the spotlight. It’s earned.

Nobody owes you good health.

Everybody knows what is required to live a healthy life. Don’t eat so much. Don’t smoke anything. Exercise a lot and practice moderation in everything you do. Beyond the basics, all else is pretty much up to statistics whether you get sick or hurt. We like to celebrate people who’ve pulled themselves out of dark places when it comes to their health or well-being. But it’s far easier to make the right choices to begin with. If you make shitty choices with your health and body, expect shitty outcomes. If somebody tells you self-improvement won’t make a difference, ignore them because they are probably at a place you don’t want to be. Nobody owes you your well-being. Most of it is entirely your choice.

Nobody owes you companionship.

Life isn’t a movie where you are guaranteed love, friendship and reverence because you did a thing. If you’re a slob who doesn’t give a damn about how you present yourself to the world, you’re going to miss out on a ton of stuff. If you take your friends for granted and don’t positively contribute, you’re not going to have a lot friends. If your only value is that you’re just a nice guy but don’t have anything else to offer, it’s going to be a lonely road. Be useful and be a person who contributes value in real terms. Be reliable. Be someone people want to hang with because you’re interested in their well-being. Be kind to people and help people help themselves. But don’t just be a nice guy who does pointless favours for everybody and hope that it leads anywhere. Nobody owes a nice guy anything, least of all companionship.

Nobody owes you happiness. 

Happy is something you decide to be at any given moment. You can choose how you feel about a certain thing. If you want to make every inconvenience seem like the end of the world, then it’ll be that. You’ll just look like an asshole and feel foolish afterwards. Choose what you give your attention to. You’ll come to learn that happiness is when you get rid of things, not when you accumulate them. Know what matters to you and be flexible. You know those people who need everything to be perfect or they’ll lose their shit? You know how you feel about them? Yeah, that’s what people will think about you if you’re like that. Don’t let everything piss you off. Get used to discomfort. Words have emotional value only to the extent you grant them. Victims of oppression are not everywhere despite the media saying so. Stop needing things to be fair. Expect things to be difficult. Just get better and create the reality you want. You decide what makes you happy and how quickly you allow yourself to be utterly indifferent to things that don’t. The easiest path to happiness is to keep the number of _____ you give to a bare minimum. Nobody owes you peace of mind.

Nobody owes you the right answers.

Nobody will care about you more than your mom and me, even if we are making it up as we go along. In terms of other folks, at best, some will tell you when you’re heading down the wrong path. At worst, some will point you there on purpose. But ultimately you own the decisions you make and the decisions you make are largely determined by your interpretation of your environment. You are the company you keep so keep good company. Your peers will have significantly more sway over your happiness, direction and success than we ever will. Have meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships and cut negative influences fast. The answers you receive are entirely dependent on the questions you ask and the people you ask. Good people will encourage you to ask good questions. Shitty people will just tell you to be happy with the answers they give. Nobody owes you the right answers because nobody knows what they are. Listen to everything, filter and make up your own mind.

Once you accept that nobody owes you anything and everything is mostly in your own hands, you’ll never be a victim. You’ll never not know what to do next. Life is amazing when you take complete ownership of things you can control and not stress over things you can’t. Eleven is not too young to know this. In fact, eleven is the perfect time to know this. You’ll experience massive changes in the next couple years; some good, some bad, but all mostly confusing. If you’re ever in a headspace where things don’t seem fair, or right or just, remember how you feel is a choice. How you react is a choice. Both constructive and destructive behaviour is a choice. Expect people to disappoint you and expect yourself to disappoint people. Nobody owes you a perfect world and by the same token, you don’t owe anybody to be perfect either.

Do stuff. Make mistakes. Be a bro. Laugh. Cry. And reset.

Love you,

Dad