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The Last Contrarian
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The Contrarian's advice to matriculants

10 January 2014, 13:47
Only ten years ago I was in the same position as millions of Matriculants are today. I’d like to share a bit of contrarian advice with them about how I think some of them should move forward.

I’d like to start this first post of mine in this new year on a positive note. I’d wish to share some contrarian advice with all the bright-eyed and hopeful Matriculants out there who are about to start the true journey of life.

Nothing brings a rebellious soul like myself more satisfaction than knowing that I did the opposite of what every parent, teacher, friend, or self-appointed ‘counsellor’ ever told me, and that I still became more successful in a shorter amount of time than any of them. I am proud to say that my pride is intact, for I’ve never had to approach another human being, with a downcast gaze (the type that results from reflective depression), and admit to them that they were right, and had I only listened to them I’d not be finding myself in the prevailing predicament.

I am here to tell you, the youth (while I am enjoying my last year of being considered one of you), that life rewards those who embrace it—in other words, those who ***LIVE***. I also hope that in this attempt of mine that I will introduce you to advice you’ve never heard of but may come to accept much later in life when the chance to benefit from it has mostly passed. To make it more digestible and easier to reference, I’ve decided to break it down into main topics.

For those who have not matriculated

Don’t waste your time chasing down something that has no value out in the real world (trust me, it does not). Rather go get a job, make money while your matriculated buddies spend money trying to study, work three years to gain experience, and then use that work experience to gain admission into university to do a correspondence degree. On paper (like your C.V.) a correspondence degree looks just as good to an employer—unless they are some MIT / Harvard / Cambridge graduate snob and expect the same from you—in which case you are fucked anyway. Remember, there is not just one road to success, just a few roads more often travelled to become successful. Let your path to success be as unique as you are.

Everyday advice

1.       Realise that friends come and go (that includes true and best friends). Never miss out on a chance to better yourself for the sake of keeping a friendship. No true friend will ever be mad or jealous of you for doing better for yourself. Often times, your own success will be the true test of your friends’ sincerity and loyalty. Tip: You may come to find as I have that the best friends in life are those you rarely share company with, but always long to see again.

2.       Take risks and chances on things where the only loss you suffer is a momentary bruising of your ego. In other words, ask that hot chick if she’d like to have her brains fucked out, right now, by you, in the public bathroom. You will be surprised how many times you’ll have the lay of your life just from being so bold. The same goes when you are applying for work (if you must work for someone else); take a shot at that position you think you have no chance in hell of even securing an interview for—the worst they can do is politely reject you via letter or email.

3.       The South African education system is a joke, so, most likely, you are not very well spoken and everything you write looks like all those mixit messages you discharged from your cellphone. Nothing in life makes you look better and more skillful and professional (not to mention charismatic) than being able to speak and write well. Do take the time to read works by people such as Thomas Sowell, Christopher Hitchens, Mark Twain, Milton Friedman, and all those people who inspired these great minds to write as they did. You will be well on your way to knowing things that the common man will never know if.

4.       Distrust those who wish to do you a favour. No act is truly selfless. Whether it be to feel better about themselves, soothe their troubled hearts, or even just to get a ticket into a fictional paradise resort in the sky (AKA heaven), everyone has their own motive and hope for gain by helping you. Accept no favours unless they come with a clear demand and one you are willing to entertain.

5.       Live your life without apology or consideration of other people’s thumb-sucked opinions (regarding anything). They will hate you for it, but, at least, you will never hate yourself for wasting your bright life wandering lost in the fog of another’s ignorance.

6.       Surround yourself with strong, successful, and—most importantly—happy people. Miserable, insecure, and depressed people will sap your energy like the emotional vampires that they are. Weak people don’t need pity, your help, or your salvation; they need to wake the fuck up and stop feeling sorry for themselves and blame everything else but themselves for their issues.

7.       Seek only approval and recognition from people who embody the successes and qualities that you seek for yourself. Everything and everyone else is but a distraction that will impede your progress towards true happiness.

8.       On the topic of happiness … accept that in the real world, happiness is not a noun, but a verb. You will be happy usually when you are most active doing something that gets you closer to achieving your goals. Actually achieving your goals will be the most amazing moments you spend alive. Forsake the passive, restful life of the dreamer and chase down stress, occasional burnout, and constant overstimulation—nobody truly successful ever did it any other way.

Career advice

1.       If at all possible, work for yourself. You will never realise your full potential while working for someone or a company that operates on the principle that for every $1 you make, they must make $10.

2.       Don’t be afraid to be a late bloomer. Despite what most people will tell you, very few of them actually have it all figured out by the time they are 21, 30, 40, or even 65. Most people are like leaves in the wind, they may look like they have this perfect plan for their life, but, really, it’s just the breeze of life making it appear so. If you are highly intelligent, you will feel more lost than most as your mind grabs onto new possibilities but then quickly grows bored of them again, making you feel like you are lazy, even though that is not the case. During such periods, stay busy and look for new opportunities of success as they come, for the bus always arrives, eventually, so wait at that bus stop.

Love advice

1.       Marriage is not as blissful nor as dreadful as many would have you believe. Don’t pursue it fanatically, but also don’t fear it irrationally. Some of your happiest and saddest moments may only reveal themselves to you after you slip that ring on her finger. Try it … at least twice.

2.       Love that comes with sacrifice is merely responsibility masquerading under a different name. If love costs you opportunities in your career and happiness, then it is not love, despite what any idiot on television says. You will know true love because it empowers you to greatness, it does not demand that you pursue mediocrity for the sake of another’s contentment.

3.       It is much easier to get a hundred women to date you than to get one good woman to love you deeply. But should you ever be lucky enough to be loved truly—the sort of love that knows no selfishness—by a good woman, cherish both that love and her and reciprocate as best as your abilities enable you to.

Spiritual advice

1.       Don’t let other people do your thinking or your studies for you. Seek out the seeds of knowledge and cultivate them until such time that they bear the fruits of wisdom. Nobody really knows what is going on in this universe, but there are people who know a hell of a lot more than others do. Useful tip: Don’t listen to people who try to discover the purpose of life (or your life) and the order of the universe by closing their eyes for extended periods of time. Trust more the man or woman who looks through the microscope and the telescope, for they can tell you what lies beyond your own five senses and help you make more sense of what (not who) you are and what you could do with your life.

2.       Following from the previous point, accept your mortality and forego this fascination with, as well as reliance on, the supernatural and the wishful. Carry the burden of critical thought with you always, and decide based on the available evidence, not the prevailing opinion.

3.       Good and bad is what some people can or cannot accept, bear witness to, or engage in. Do not limit yourself needlessly to conform to standards most people never gave more than a moment’s thought before accepting it for life.

TL:RD version

If you didn’t bother or couldn’t care to read any or all of the above, then I will give you only this:

·         Whatever you do, don’t waste your life following the orders of old men who need your labour to fund their retirement plans, your vote to secure their election, or your faith to ensure their admission into paradise.

·         Whenever you collide with failure (and you will), just remember the words Reverend Banks spoke to Richard Pryor on the final episode of his television show, which got cancelled due to poor ratings: “[Never mind that.] He who sits on the red hot stove, shall surely rise.”

Hardly short, certainly not sweet, but laden with truths that you will come to appreciate as you wade through the next decade (or more) of your adult life.

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