Saturday, September 6, 2008

Some thoughts

I don't think I mentioned this before, but I have a younger brother. He's in graduate school right now and has no interest in pharmacy or anything science related (not that I really care about this). We were a lot different when we were young, but as we grow older and mature, we're becoming a lot more alike. I can't say that we're particularly close. We don't fight. We get along just fine. We just don't talk very much. Actually, we don't talk at all.

Anyway... I just thought to write about this because we're an interesting study of what can be considered being successful in this world. My brother gets good grades, but he has no ambition. He doesn't desire to do anything with his life. He has no career aspirations. Right now, he's perfectly comfortable living with our parents and allowing them to pay for everything in his life. In so many ways, he's a spoiled bastard who has no idea of what the real world is like. If you only heard some of the nasty, selfish remarks he's made to our parents, you'd want to beat the shit out of him. He has no idea how good he has it.

Then there's me: I graduated near the top of my class in high school and pharmacy school. I'm completely financially independent. My brother probably has no chance to make the kind of money that I do now. I have my own place. I'm well-liked and respected by my peers at work as well as our customers. I've never been in trouble. I'm a model citizen in a lot of ways.

On paper, I look like the runaway winner in this success comparison. Here's the thing though... Are career and financial achievements a good way to monitor success? I don't really think so.

See... the thing with my brother is that, no, he'll never have a job that pays as well or is as respected as mine. He may end up living with our parents until he's 30. However, he has a life that I don't. In the past 4 years, he's been to Hawaii 3 times. He's been to the Bahamas on spring break. He has almost a thousand pictures of he and his friends at beaches, parties, mud volleyball games, etc. He's not passionate about his career, but he's passionate about life, and that's so much more important. He's seemingly always trying new things, meeting new people, and going to different places. He's not letting school and work dictate the rest of his life.

That's something I can really learn from him, and that's a revelation to me because I never thought he could teach me anything. Growing up, I was the one with the friends, while he struggled to fit in. I was lean and athletic, while he was fairly chubby. I excelled in school and sports, while he had trouble in certain subjects and wasn't very athletic. I was always clean cut and well-dressed, whereas he continually went through phases where he had long, unkept hair and wore punk rock band t-shirts. I was always a happy kid, while he struggled with depression (which is evident from the scars all over his legs where he purposely cut himself with a razor).

Somewhere along the line, he made some changes in order to better himself. He decided he didn't like being overweight, so he started to run. Now, he's thinner than I am and can run a mile in 5 minutes. He decided the punk rock look wasn't cutting it anymore, so he got a very clean looking, short haircut and started dressing in nicer clothes. Instead of being swallowed by his depression, he challenged himself to make the best of his life that he could. It's sort of inspirational, probably even more so if he didn't act like such an asshole to our parents. He's not perfect of course. He's still pretty high strung about certain things, and he's prone to pretty bad mood swings. However, he's in a much better place than before.

Once again, compare that to me, the supposedly successful one, and the vision of success gets a little muddy. Yes, I'm respected and very comfortable financially. However, I'm not living life to the fullest. Maybe if things didn't go bad with my ex, I wouldn't be saying the same thing. Maybe if I were married now like I thought I'd be, I'd think I was the one with the full and meaningful life. Instead, I'm still in this rut of waking up and going to work every day. I'm trying to form new, meaningful relationships, but it's so damn hard at this point. I've made a couple new friends, but both cases are sort of complicated at the moment.

It all goes back to the consequences of devoting the 6 most important social development years of your life to one person, and then having that one person walk out on you. It doesn't matter how good of a person I might be. It's just hard to form new relationships if you don't come into contact with people (pharmacy patrons don't count) on a regular basis. It sucks when people ask why you didn't go anywhere during your vacation week, and you don't really have an answer except to shrug your shoulders. It's not like I didn't want to go anywhere or do anything. There's not many places to go that are fun for one person, and there's not much that a person can do on his own.

I kind of got off track with this post... The point is that for all my supposed success and my brother's lack thereof, he has the better life. It's not a life that I can't have for myself. I just don't have as many opportunities now. If I could re-live my college years, I'd do so many things differently. Unfortunately, that's not possible, so I'm left trying to make the best of my current situation. I'm trying. I feel like I'm making progress. I've made some pretty big leaps in the past few months (getting over my ex was the biggest of course). There's such a long way to go though, and through it all, I have to keep getting up and going to work...


PharmacistMike said...

I don't think you can judge a good life my money or adventure standards. Three years ago I was faced with finding a lump. I assumed I would die and spent a long time looking back on my life and waited 8 months before seeing a doctor. One thing I did find was that I have an awesome life and it is not because of me but because of my friends. Obviously, I lived through it and I see things a lot differently now. My advice is if you want something then take a chance. I am taking that chance now. I joked at a friend house the other night that, two years ago I had a six figure income and two testicles and that now I have $1 and 1 testicle. Everyone laughed but I don't think they realized that I really only had $1. I am taking a chance, starting a new business and also a non-profit organization. I've had plenty of extra money in the past but have been unhappy now with nothing to lose I am happy.

pharmacy chick said...

Happiness is not measured by how many times you have been to Hawaii or how many thousands of pictures of beach parties you have attended. Its also not a function of how much money YOU have or whether you are married with 2.5 kids or sponging off parents going nowhere.
Its not getting what you want, its wanting what you get. Logically you realize you should be happy with what you got, but deep inside, you aren't. Logically your brother shouldn't be happy with what he has done, but he is.He has the life of Riley, but its hardly balanced because he gets away with it at the expense of his family. Thats hardly fair nor "passionate" its selfish.
I am sure he has something to teach you, but learn the right lession. Life is to be lived, yes and perhaps he is a decent example of that. Do more living, but do it balanced. Have you ever asked yourself "what do I do that brings me the most joy?" I have my "thing" and when pursue that activity, I am at peace. I also prioritize my life so I can pursue that activity. Work sucks most of the time, but it pays for my leisure. Thats the balance for Pharmacy Chick.

rinner said...

what is going to happen when your parents don't help out your brother? He's going to find someone to leech off of, so be careful!

Anonymous said...

"I joked at a friend house the other night that, two years ago I had a six figure income and two testicles and that now I have $1 and 1 testicle."

Powerful words, powerful words. But wait, are you allowed to use the name "Pharmacist Mike" on Pharmacy Mike's blog?

Anonymous said...

Success is not a way station; life is meant to be lived each second of every minute, not swoop it all up in a single word or thought.

PharmacistMike said...

I hope I can use pharmacistmike. I should have asked permission but instead I'll beg for forgiveness.

Actually, when I moved to Florida there were 3 Mikes in our group of friends so I became Mike the Pharmacist. That was later shortened to Pharmacist. I was the most popular guy at parties when people would introduce me as The Pharmacist. Then someone would ask why I was called The Pharmacist. When I said because I am one everyone would walk away. Evidently, they thought I was a dealer and a lot cooler than a real pharmacist.