Now you know how awkward I was as a child. I HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY, INTERNET.
Rather bizarrely, I spent a large portion of my childhood thinking about wood.
I grew up in rural Minnesota, eight miles outside a town of 2,000 people. We ate fish my dad caught, vegetables my mom grew, and heated the house with wood my dad cut down, chopped, and piled (meticulously and perfectly) in the driveway.
Every summer I’d help pile it in the driveway and then, every winter, I’d help re-pile it in the basement. I also spent huuuuuge amounts of time complaining that I was missing Saved By The Bell because I was stacking wood.
By the age of 12, I knew how to start a fire in the furnace or fire pit. I knew which wood you used to get the fire going (birch), which wood burned fast (pine), and which wood burned hot and slow, keeping your house warm so you don’t have to get up in the middle of Family Matters and throw another log on (ash, oak, hickory.)
Now here’s where that heavy-handed metaphor comes in:
The good things in life
a career you really love
a loving, supportive relationship
emotional security + stability
or, in this case, a crackling fire and a warm home
are often the direct result of very slow, deeply unglamorous work.
There aren’t really any shortcuts to getting the good stuff. Discovering your talents, polishing them till they shine, and finding out how to make a living from them? That takes years (or 10,000 hours.) Trying things, failing, trying again, learning to cope with tough stuff, and emerging a smarter + better person? That takes years, too.
So you haven’t landed your dream job yet.
Or you haven’t amassed that 401k.
Or your writing skills aren’t where you’d like them to be.
Be patient. Be gentle with yourself. It takes an oak tree 20 years to produce its first acorn.
You’ll get there, slowly but surely.
And – cheesy as it sounds – you’ll burn brightly when you do.