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The Second Reason You Can't Care What 'They' Think

You all know the first reason why you can't care what 'they' think about your dreams: More people will say that you can't do it, that you'll never achieve your pie-in-the-sky goals, than people who will say you can. That's a net loss of encouragement, or a net gain of discouragement, and it's just not worth your effort to pay attention.

Now, the second reason you can't care what they think. Because they just won't get it. Even if you arrive at the stars you've been wishing upon for weeks, months, and years, they probably understand.

Last June, news got out that a girl who graduated from my high school in the mid-90's (I knew her as the girl who stayed with my brothers' godparents for a few years while she was in high school) had hit it big. She was a supporting actress in the hit movie The Notebook. Naturally, a local paper did a story on her -- and a very poor one at that, in which the word "role" was repeatedly spelled "roll." They wrote about how she set out for Los Angeles after graduating from high school with no money, no job, and no acting experience. Then she proceeded to learn how to act, get regular work, and eventually land a "roll" in a bigtime motion picture. And in the process, they made false statements about which high school she graduated from and who her mother was.

When I was deciding where to go to college, a teacher at my high school asked if MIT was a business school.

Also when I was a senior in high school, I wore an MIT sweatshirt to class. One of my classmates asked me what "mit" (read: mitt) stood for. Ten minutes later, I had convinced him that it was a mirror-image printing of my (fictional) cousin Tim's name that I made for fun at a summer camp.

My middle brother's best friend and his family recently brought my name up in conversation when talking about where he was going to attend college. The kid's dad called me a "hobo" because "Ian went all the way to MIT, and now he doesn't even have a home."

I can't help but laugh at these four situations, especially the last one. The father came up with the "hobo" comment because I've visited my family in Kansas more times in 2005 than normal people who go to a "good school" to get "good job" to have "good life." But I'll take it as a compliment. I travel quite a bit because I can do most of my work from my computer. So I could be in Boston, Cleveland, Kansas, New York, Los Angeles, or elsewhere at any given time. And I like it that way.

I learned a long time ago that you can't care what they think of what you're trying to do because they won't understand even if you make it happen. You can't do something just so people will tell your story the way you want it told. If you want your told right, you'll have to tell it yourself. And you'll only like to tell that story if it's about you doing something you love.

Posted by Ian Ybarra on 15 June 2005

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