These days most of my friends are around 28 years old.
A good friend who recently moved to New York is 28. Also, plenty of people I met in Latin America and Europe are around 28.
It’s that perfect combination between still "being in your 20s" and some level of adulthood and maturity.
Having just turned 33 earlier this month, I don’t believe it’s a huge gap in age, but it sure gets me thinking about when I was 28.
And boy, what a different world it was.
At that time I was slaving away for a large company in Silicon Valley, enduring a soul-sucking 1-2 hour commute each way.
I was surrounded by politically-correct pencil pushers at work, and by spineless "men" at home in the most politically-correct and liberal place in America.
I was a slave to the system blindly unaware of the choices I’ve made to get there.
Never realizing how foolish I was to be seduced by the idea of working in the "technology mecca" of the world.
I was wasting my youth working for a company I didn’t respect, living in a place I didn’t understand, and surrounded by women I couldn’t connect with.
So I sold everything I own, bought a one-way ticket and got the fuck out as soon as I could.
Few months later I was living in a huge beach front apartment in Rio de Janeiro with two other Latin American expats.
And that’s when my life really began.
We went out. We partied. We lived.
The past was done with. Future was unknown. We lived in the moment.
We made no excuses for the actions we did.
There was no success nor rejection. Just life.
And we grabbed life with all we’ve had by living everyday like it was our last.
It was truly a new normal.
There was no political correctness, no feminine males, no masculine females, no hipsters, no "scene", no cliques.
No judging. No fakeness. No platonic bullshit.
People were normal. Men were men. Women were women. Women liked men and men liked women.
I was no longer surrounded by girls full of sarcastic comebacks, afraid of showing affection in public, and mortified of doing anything the culture deems "inappropriate."
Nor was I surrounded by men with weak handshakes, high-pitched voices, who couldn’t look you in the eye, and were always full of excuses why they can’t do this or that.
I traded my soulless existence of being surrounded by synthetic, conformant, sterile and lackluster individuals to being surrounded by go-getters with stories, drive, ambition and motivation.
I unknowingly swallowed the red pill, and there was no going back.
It’s one thing to read stories online of experiences of what life’s like on the other side, whether it’s in another city, country or continent.
It’s completely another to drop everything and move.
We’re thought from an early age to go to school, college, get a job, buy a house with a 30 year mortgage.
But we never think that what maybe what is best for society isn’t necessarily best for the individual.
It’s hard to judge your own existence when you’re stuck in the system. Sometimes one needs to give up everything to gain something.
Few years later I came back to San Francisco to visit a friend. My first few days could be best described as utter and mass confusion.
I didn’t understand why my friend’s female friend was so combative, so eager to prove herself in any situation. Always testing me by prefacing every comment with, "you’re not in Brazil anymore."
I didn’t understand why the girl who I found attractive and who found me attractive got so uncomfortable when I slowly caressed my hand against her skin at a San Francisco party.
I felt dazed, lost and confused while everyone around me was happy, enjoying their lives.
I didn’t understand why the men need to consult every minor event with their girlfriends instead of making a firm decision and standing their ground.
I didn’t understand why it wasn’t fun dealing with women anymore. It was always "work", completely void of any charm, emotions, or playfulness.
I became angry, anti-social, and unwilling to compromise my standards in this new reality I suddenly found myself in.
I became super sarcastic with every woman I met, trying everything I could to make her feel self-conscious, and finding any way to push her buttons.
I became ruthless with every man I met, savoring every moment to put him on the spot when he was wishy-washy about a decision.
I became unhappy, jaded, sour and unaccepting of this new normal.
Every year I spend less and less time in this place we call America.
And when I do come, I have a plan.
I don’t go out. I rarely drink. I don’t validate a woman because she has a vagina.
I see my family and friends, buy cheap shit on Amazon.com, replace my broken equipment, and get out on the next plane.
Year 28 was good to me. It taught me that there’s a better, more exciting, more colorful world out there. A place that truly motivates a man.
But it rewards only those that are willing to risk all by giving up all.
And then, and only then, will you be ready to experience something new.
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