Many people here think it’s impossible to succeed on a path different from the typical, ineffectual road to mediocrity. But there is another path, less traveled, more fulfilling, made of awesomeness. If you want to be awesome, apply the following:
Go to school only if you’re truly interested in the field. Don’t put all your hopes on your professors or the classroom to teach you how to live life. Understand that University education is only the beginning, actual education is a lifelong process. Be comfortable learning many things and always set for yourself a high standard of excellence in what you set out to achieve. Keep your mind active by reading often and watching documentaries.
Make yourself indispensable, whether at a workplace or self-employed. At the workplace, always look to contribute above and beyond the call of your job description. Make the people around you comfortable by offering creative solutions to their problems and being helpful. Be a ‘soft’ leader, ensuring that systems are working and people are being held accountable without your having to be domineering or overbearing. Don’t backbite about anyone or fall prey to office politics. Adopt the principle that it is better to be professionally respected than personally liked at the workplace.
If you are self-employed, make sure you are remarkable at what you do. Ensure clients receive an epic experience when they call on your services. Always initiate a paper or email trail of all correspondence to bypass potential issues of he-said-she-said later on. In the oft-arising case of flaky clients, lack of payments, issues with attitude, etc., perform a cost-benefit before jumping into a battle which may be more harm than its worth. Set for yourself and your company a high standard of excellence. Offer the kind of service you would be proud to be associated with. Be prepared to put in as many (usually more) hours than you would at a day-job.
Develop many income streams. Use the Internet to connect with international opportunities and earn in international currency.
Authority & Elders
Respect your elders and listen to their guidance and wisdom, but always keep your own counsel. Respect the community you live in and the authority figures within that community but maintain autonomy over your own life. Use discretion when faced with a corrupt asshole on a power trip; waging war may not always be prudent.
Travel far, travel often. If you don’t have enough money, make more. Don’t let distance be an excuse either. Go to exotic places and meet new people, experience new cultures, taste new foods, see the life that other people on the planet live. Keep an open mind and bring back the useful lessons you learned to implement in your own community.
Eliminate all egotistical expectations or preconceived notions. Don’t look for personal fulfillment in another person. “You complete me” is a bullshit line, only you can complete yourself. Look instead for supplementary relationships which improve the lives of both people rather than drain both their energies. If you are trying too hard without much gain, walk out and move on. If he/she is trying too hard but you’re not into it, stop being an asshole and let them go. Do not get married because you are being pressured into it. Do not get married because ‘that’s what everyone does at my age’. Do not get married because you are ‘getting older’. Get married only when you find the right person. You will know when you do.
In any relationship, look to give more than you receive. Expect the same of the other person.
Interact with many different people from many different walks. Treat every person the same regardless of their lot in life. Look for symbiosis and the mutual exchange of information or love within your relationships. Donate to charities whenever you can. Find a way to give back. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it is all someone else’s problem. That someone else is you.
Be independent and self-reliant. Be comfortable stretching yourself until you fail. Fail often. Quit often. Live on the knife’s edge between normal and totally insane. Do what you love and don’t compromise on your own happiness or well-being. Be a source of strength for your family rather than relying on them. Make long term plans mainly for the opportunity of personal growth they provide. Plan your days, your weeks, your months but be adaptable. Be comfortable saying no. Be honest with everyone around you even if they hate you for it. Don’t waste your time and make sure your priorities are in order. Eliminate the words compromise and conventional from your vocabulary. Wake up every morning with a sense of optimism and determination over what you are going to achieve. Eat lots of delicious desi food because it’s fuckin’ delicious. Exercise often because it’s still pretty bad for you.
This way of living is much tougher than giving in and becoming just another Pakistani Chawal. It involves lots of hard work, and you will face resistance from complete strangers and loved ones alike because it is different from what is considered ‘normal’. It doesn’t come easy.
Then again, nothing worth having has ever come easy.