Hunter S. Thompson, considered the father of gonzo journalism, wrote this when he was 20-years old:
To put our faith in tangible goals would seem to be, at best, unwise. So we do not strive to be firemen, we do not strive to be bankers, nor policemen, nor doctors. WE STRIVE TO BE OURSELVES.
But don’t misunderstand me. I don’t mean that we can’t BE firemen, bankers, or doctors—but that we must make the goal conform to the individual, rather than make the individual conform to the goal. In every man, heredity and environment have combined to produce a creature of certain abilities and desires—including a deeply ingrained need to function in such a way that his life will be MEANINGFUL. A man has to BE something; he has to matter.
As I see it then, the formula runs something like this: a man must choose a path which will let his ABILITIES function at maximum efficiency toward the gratification of his DESIRES. In doing this, he is fulfilling a need (giving himself identity by functioning in a set pattern toward a set goal) he avoids frustrating his potential (choosing a path which puts no limit on his self-development), and he avoids the terror of seeing his goal wilt or lose its charm as he draws closer to it (rather than bending himself to meet the demands of that which he seeks, he has bent his goal to conform to his own abilities and desires).
Apart from feeling envy at his intellect and ability to write so concisely at an age when I couldn’t even string laces together, let alone thoughts of this power, I’m inspired by and take comfort from it.
Reading my old notebooks I can laugh at the lofty dreams and angst they contain. I now see the truth about the goals of my youth is that they were not mine. They belonged to the authors of books I read, movies I watched and ads that I saw. My plan to become wealthy by taking part in a pyramid scheme was built on desires imposed on me from these sources. Inevitably it failed. The scheme did not suit me, I’m no salesman.
Now I’m older and more settled in who I am my goals are more aligned with my purpose; to explore and entertain. I feel more at ease with the steps I need to take to achieve them and I’m willing to make the sacrifices required to so. I’m happier to be myself.
*This quote came from the book ‘Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience’ by Shaun Usher