FIVE IN THE STREET: HOW TO PLAY LIFE WITH HAND YOU’RE DEALT

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“Just because you were born at the bottom, doesn’t mean you have to stay at the bottom.”


For myself, as with many like myself, I am starting my life from humble beginnings. And when I say humble beginnings, I mean growing up poor. My mother is what you would call the working poor. Where one missed day of work, one sick day could have placed her, my two sisters, and myself in a homeless shelter, or worse in the street. But does that mean our lives have to stay that way? No, it does not. Because living in America, we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. My two siblings are currently steadfast in their careers, and am actively pursuing my own path in life. So if you’ve been dealt a bad hand, how do you win with that hand?

Well, for starters, it comes by way of education. At a young age, my mother started to invest in our education. And when I say invest, she didn’t have money set aside for us as children. But she did make sure that the schools we went to were good enough and safe enough. She waited in lines to enroll us in school. She didn’t sleep in the bed and not make an effort to get us into a good school. She made it her mission, at times sacrificing her own well-being. Even though we were in public school, with my oldest sister attending private in high school, the schools were decent. The school wasn’t a place where all the kids were focused on being cool kids. You were encouraged to expand your mind past how you were being perceived by your peers. So you were able to focus on your education.

So now that education was taken care of, my mother cultivated a household where our minds could grow. At a young age she would take us to the library where we took part in various activities: reading, writing, and putting together puzzles (which was an activity I loved). We even had times on Friday nights when she would have long conversations with us about life. Little did I know those conversations and those weekend trips to the library were getting us prepared to deal in life. It taught me patients, hard work, persistence, and dedication. In addition, I also have to not forget those trips to the zoo and museums, where we were encouraged to have an open mind to many different cultures and experiences.

So now that my sisters and myself are adults we can pursue our own endeavors with the confidence needed up to this point to succeed. So what does all this have to do with winning with a bad hand; well, a lot. Everything that I was taught growing up, in combination with my own cultivated intellect, we have always been able to prosper. Now, everyone did not grow up in a household where their talents were nurtured. Some people have some very tough lives that are far beyond my life. But understand, that your story and my story is not unique. There is always someone that looks like you, and have come from where you have come from to succeed. So in the end, there is always going to be people dealt a bad hand. Some will overcome their struggle and others won’t. Sadly enough, that’s just some of the outcomes of life.


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THE WORLD OWES YOU NOTHING: WHY YOUR LIFE IS UP TO YOU

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“Your life: whatever comes of it is up to you.”


You want  something in life, you go for it. No one is going to give it to you and won’t care if you ever have it. So it’s your job to go into the world and make your own luck. Now, I could sit here and go through all the stories of how some people have it hard. Yet when it’s all said and done, everyone has something on their plate. And the world is just not interested in caring about whatever it is you’re going through in life. So where does that leave people who don’t have direction? It leaves them with their hands in the air. Because as an adult, you have to figure your life out.

Hey, easier said than done right? Well, in so many cases it’s actually wrong. I am in my late 20’s; actually I should just say thirty years of age by now. And I watch people my age go to the clubs and enjoy their lives. Yet I sit inside of a computer lab, typing away. Trying to come up with my next blog topic, my next screenplay idea, my next book, or my next anything that will make me a better writer. Meanwhile, so many guys my age do nothing. I don’t understand it, I just don’t. To me, my life is not moving as fast as I thought it would. So, in the moment, I feel like I am being just as unproductive as them. My life could turn out to be a dud just like the guy who sits around and does nothing.

And what’s scary, is that I could never achieve anything remotely close to the success I want in life. But that’s just life; there is no guarantee of making a living in society. I could put my life into my work and fail. But so many can’t stomach the idea of putting their all into something and it not pan out. They expect something to happen. They might ask, “How much time should I dedicate to doing this or that?” Or they’ll say, “So if I do everything you just said will it make me successful?” And real answer is, who knows. You have no clue what might transpire, but that’s actually what’s good about this roller coaster ride we call life. You might not even try that hard and win, or work your ass off and lose. There is no guarantee and no one owes you anything.

Because in the end, your life is whatever you make it. No one has to make things happen for you, that’s your job. Yes, there may be people who give you an opportunity along the way, but it’s not owed to you. You take it for what it’s worth and keep going. Because win or lose, your success in life will ultimately come down to how much you have prepared. And for those that haven’t prepared, it will show in their lives.


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FROM SUCCESS COMES GUILT: WHY DO PEOPLE FEEL DOWN ABOUT THEIR SUCCESS

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“I’m winning, but do I deserve it?”


You’re young, successful, and life couldn’t be any better. As a matter of fact, life is so good, you often feel like why are you coasting so easily. Now what’s interesting about that statement is that you built yourself to where you are in life. Yet when you look at your life, you have given so much to be where you’re at. Why are you feeling this weird sense of guilt, or undeserving feeling of you getting what you have today? It’s because when you see how the dynamics of how the world actually is built, you think to yourself, “How the hell did I get here?” But most of all, you’re seeing people around you work so hard, yet go nowhere.

Now, I also look at where you have come from as it pertains to your socioeconomic situation. If you grew up poor, and now you’re upper middle class, then you go back home and see poor people. People you know very well are hard working people. They’re not lazy, they’re not bulking the system, so why are they struggling and I am not? Why does it seem like money is coming to me so easily and they struggle to survive? You sit on the lakefront overlooking the landscape with your 5,000; 6,000; or 7,000 square foot house in the background. You look around and say to yourself, “Why me?”

But then you have to snap back to your senses and say, “Why not me?” Especially if you came from humble beginnings, you deserve to have what’s coming to you. But it’s sometimes more than just that in life. Sometimes, some of us are blessed with the ability to retain more knowledge, or just born with more knowledge. And that would mean you hit the genetic lottery. You are of the few that are able to use your mind to move yourself to another level. The things to some people that make no sense, flow through your mind perfectly. Now most would say, “Why don’t you share that knowledge?” And you do, hence, why you have so many people who struggle. Not because you shared your knowledge of success, but because how some of them receive the information.

You might share how you made it, and they ignore, or discredit what you’re saying. So it becomes tough to share with people sometimes because they have this disconnect that causing them to not want to accept the truth. Yet, you are of rational mind. So when two people of rational mind talk, yet only one can accept the rationale, then you have a disconnect. And in the end, that is why you shouldn’t feel hurt by where you are in life. Life is all about choices. Choices to listen, to work, to enjoy your life, and to part take in activities you shouldn’t do. And you should never feel like where you have come is some kind of mistake. Because there is always someone feeling and living worse off than you; so live life and enjoy.


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MINDLESS MINDFRAME: HOW LEAVING YOUR SMALL TOWN MAY BE FOR THE BEST

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“When you think big and they think small.”


Do you come from a small city or town? Are the people where this place exist carry a certain mind frame that causes you to disconnect from them? Me myself, I come from one of these type of places. The city is a place you probably never heard of, and a population of only 78,000 people. A lot of the younger generation continues to still move away. And the population is still continuing to fall as time progress. Well, why is that? Why are the people leaving this seemingly quiet town. Well, first and foremost, the jobs have left. What was once a thriving Midwest manufacturing city has been reduced to vacant factory buildings. But another reason is because of the thought process of the people.

You probably ask, what makes it tough to live in some of these types of places. For starters, people have a hard time seeing past their current situation. To them, this is it, and there is nothing past this. And not just in a negative I am a failure way. But also in a manner where whatever is the well-known organization to work for, people flock to it like it’s working for Goldman Sachs. People walk around like this place to work for is the greatest and if you can’t get a job here, you must not be worth hiring. It’s like, “I’m a supervisor over at this place.” It’s about levels, as with anywhere else in society. Yet the level is not a real level. They are sharks in a pond, but when but in a bigger city, they become clown fish in the ocean. But what is another reason to leave your small city/town?

Another is how people look at the world as it pertains to the social landscape. I was walking down the street here in New York City, and a guy had on a baseball cap. The logo was of the Confederate Flag, and in addition he sported some sunglasses. And judging by the way he was carrying himself, he thought he was making a statement. Almost as if he wanted to say, “All these others are afraid to express themselves.” “But I’m going to be me in this overly liberal environment.” And sense the language is so sensitive, he thought people would react. Because he probably watched protest in NYC on television and figured he’d express himself. Yet no one told him on a daily basis that no one pays much attention to you. But his lack of knowledge made him look like a loser in his hat. Because he just watched TV like Fox News or CNN, and that’s how he based his perception of a liberal city.

Other reasons you have to make moves from these places is because few people have a sense of vision. People look at you and say, “No one from this small town is doing that.” And if you attempt, people will try to bring you down so you have to leave. They will be afraid of your progress surpassing them. And they think they know you because whatever family you came from as well. Kind of like, “Oh, that’s so and so’s kid.” “I been knowing his family, they up to no good, he must be as well.” So you have to go to a city where no one knows or think they know your family. This way you can start from scratch and represent yourself. And in the end, that’s the just of moving. There is a mind frame that people define as comfortable, which keeps them from growing and you as well if you stay. But lastly, don’t move elsewhere thinking your life will change. Because you have to think different yourself.


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NOT QUITE THERE YET: ARE YOU NOT IN THE PLACE YOU WANT TO BE IN LIFE

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“The long arduous path that is success.”


Have you ever had the feeling like you’re not in the place you want to be in life? Like you should be or thought you would be a lot farther by this point? Well, I am about to turn thirty years of age and I am working toward a career as a writer. While working toward this career, I am working two part-time jobs. And that sounds fine when you are a twenty years old, but not when you are thirty. Because when you are thirty, you are supposed to be a certain place by this time. You should be on your way to finding your first starter home and thinking about children, not writing. But I am pursuing a career I love, rather than a job I have to go to everyday.

So here I sit, in this moment writing. And to cope with the long road to writing success, I try to observe those that started around my age. And you see they had their first success at about mid to late thirties. Now I gave myself a ten year time period to break in as a successful writer of screenplays, playwright, and novels; with a little lightweight film/theatre directing. Now that I have gotten myself out of the way, what are you pursuing that your life isn’t where you thought it would be? We have all these visions when we are children of the things we will do as adults. But when we become adults, everything is up in the air once you are in the world on your own.

And everything is really up in the air if you have no clue what you want to do with your life. You typically spend all your time working, then coming home and existing. So the days turn into weeks, then weeks to months, and months to years. And before you know it, life has past them by, and they have not attempted at anything in life. And that is the scary feeling people have of not quite being there yet. They even see people their age making life decisions, going in the right direction. Yet they are still not there themselves. So they find any reason to avoid people they know out of shame. Why, well because we always compare ourselves to people that are around our age.

But what happens once people younger than yourself start making moves in life beyond you. That’s when you really start to feel uncomfortable. Seeing a new younger generation making moves that you feel you have not made yet. And what’s crazy, that young age group will feel the same once they reach my age. See, in the end, we don’t want to live with the failures. But we also don’t want to live with the idea of people saying I told you so. Trying at something and constantly failing at it over and over again. But I remember reading a quote by Thomas Edison which stated, “Many of life’s failures didn’t realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” But the real question is, how do you know when you’re close?


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LOSE OF INNOCENCE: HOW ADULTHOOD ROBS YOU OF YOU

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“You lose and lose and lose; then maybe you win.”


When you’re young, everyone tells you about how adulthood will pan out, Yet it does not quite amount to the struggle when you do become and adult. You’re told you have to work to become the person you want to be. But when you’re actually working to be that person, then you see it first hand. And you start to ask questions you never thought you would find yourself asking. Questions like, “Are humans really built to work like this everyday?” “I want a one dollar McChicken from McDonald’s; you mean to tell me I need a full-time job for a one dollar sandwich?” And with all the questions you ask, hopefully you’re able to come out on top. Yet so many don’t come out on top.

So inevitably, what is lost from your climb to success. In my opinion, when all you’re doing is working, then a bit of innocence is lost. You lose some humanity, as well as you becoming a little less empathetic person. You go from caring about the loved ones around you to what’s in it for me. And that’s when even more of you is lost. But why are we like this? Well, it’s because of how man constructed society.  Humans evolved to live on this planet, but not to necessarily work all the time. But we also needed to construct the world to keep everything in order also. So part of that keeping order was building economies. And as a driver in these economies, jobs and a marketplace of buyers and sellers.

So now, society is situated around attaining a living. Yet we are not happy creatures; more stressed than anything. But we continue on because there is this held belief that there is light at the end of the tunnel. We wake up every morning giving thanks for another day on Earth. But how content are we really? Maybe this is the reason we cling on to other aspects of society, like religion or having social lives. Or even maintaining monogamous relationships. It gives a real human existence outside the hustle of our work lives. Because a vast majority of our lives is predicated on what we do for a living. So it’s tough when we don’t have anything going on outside of work.

In the end, the older we get, the more we lose ourselves. And when I say ourselves, I don’t mean our self-respect. I mean this small amount of humanity that we lose. I think this is why we sometimes place ourselves around charities. We give back because it gives us what we lose through so much struggle in life.


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MAKING YOUR OWN LUCK: HOW YOU CAN TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE

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“You might have been dealt a bad hand; use in to your advantage.”


Some great advice for life, is that no matter what your economic, social, academic, ethnic, gender background, you can overcome a bad situation, At times we feel like all hope is lost for the future. But little do we know that we may be in a better position than we realize. Like me for example, I grew up below the poverty level in the United States. But does that mean I have to always be in that position in my life. You can tailor make life to move yourself out of your current situation. Problem is that most people have a hard time moving themselves out of their bad positions.

See, in earlier posts I talked about putting yourself in the know. And most people say, “What is the know?” “The know of what?” I say, “Whatever it is you’re attaining to have in this world.” So many people want something out of life, such as a paycheck. Yet they don’t quite understand what it is they have to do to get there. They’ll say,” I need a good paying job that makes good money.” That sentence has no clear meaning to it. You have to know what career interest, what title, what pay range, and what time it could potentially take to get there. And this requires having a certain level of self-awareness. Lacking an understanding of self will make it hard to navigate the know. Because you don’t know what you’re good at, if anything at all.

So what do you have to do, you have to test out different things in life. For me, I tried multiple things before I realized I wanted to be a writer. I said to myself, “Faheem, you’re going to be a doctor.” Then I realized I don’t have the patience to deal with patients. So next I said, “You’re going to be an attorney.” And envisioned myself in a court room standing before the judge and jury. Then I realized I could never get a guilty person off or send an innocent person to jail. My big break came when I said that I would go into the business field, which is broad. And it wasn’t until I went for my MBA I realized I wanted to be a writer. Initially it was not knowing what I was doing, if ever I would be successful, but I knew I loved it.

The more I wrote, the more I became comfortable with talking about myself. And I don’t mean being into myself. I mean debriefing information, and being more transparent than before in life. So what did I do, I realized I had something, and could make it into a career. So since the year 2013, I have been writing screenplays, blogging, and my books. So what does all this have to do with making my own luck? I am putting myself in the know by researching, and continuing to learn to write. Making those moves to understand the career for you and knowing what you’re good at it. And also knowing when to make appropriate adjustments to the things you write. Because you’re not going to know everything, especially in the initial stage, yet you have to develop a feel for when things are going right or wrong.

See, in the end, you can make your own luck. You just have to be willing to put yourself in a certain mind frame. And with that mind frame, you start to understand and develop a sense of self. Once you know yourself, you can pursue your career endeavor. This way, you’re being not vague about what it is you want. Sadly enough, a lot of people will never find what they’re good at in life.


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