I am a creature of habit. Like most other people, I suppose. You know, those of us who build an intricate web of routines to help us cope with the anxiety caused by the uncertainty of life.
Something to give you the illusion of having the ability to control (or even predict) the future.
We go to the same coffee shop each morning, we spend the same amount of time watching TV late at night. We create a certain pattern.
We want today and tomorrow to contain just enough deja vus to remind us of yesterday.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about life in all my years of struggle is that becoming comfortable is the first step to ruin.
We must never, ever become comfortable.
We must break the habit, day after day.
Happiness is not about obtaining a certain equilibrium, it’s about progress.
Think about falling in love with someone. You slowly discover another human being, and we let ourselves be explored by another. That makes us happy.
The fact that a relationship is evolving, the fact that you have to do your best to get that promotion…
Becoming better at something, or stronger, or faster.
It’s not about results, it’s about taking the steps required to ensure said results.
But this is not an easy process. Sometimes we fail. Sometimes we are defeated. Sometimes things don’t make sense. Sometimes it hurts, and sometimes we get scared.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned the hard way is that opportunities are often masked by fear and pain.
And so, in order to avoid pain, to avoid facing our fears, we try to define ourselves.
“I’m not good at marketing.”
“I can’t dance.”
” I don’t like to excercise.”
We tell ourselves and those around us that we are writers, that we are shy, that we can’t be happy unless we’re in a relationship. We tell ourselves that we’re like this and like that because we are afraid.
We’d like to meet new people and make friends, but we are afraid and thus we tell ourselves that we’re shy and we act accordingly.
We fear that the hard work we must do in order to understand marketing won’t be worth it and thus we tell ourselves that that’s just who we are.
We must never, ever decide that we are any one thing.
Yet we do this, over and over again, because we are afraid.
But let me tell you something: pain is temporary, fear is just something we create in our imagination.
So, we must face both fear and pain.
You don’t like to go to clubs because you don’t like to dance? Learn to dance. You don’t like meeting people because you don’t want to be rejected or ridiculed? Face your fear, try to meet as many people as possible, no matter how painful their reactions might be.
Afraid of dogs? Of cats? Of people with beards? Face your fears. Go out with a few folks with really long beards and you’ll soon realize that they’re actually nice people. Walk past enough dogs to realize they’re not going to bite you anytime soon.
So…what happens if we do face our fears?
That’s when the magic of being a human being takes place.
Because, you see, you have managed to control your emotions, your thoughts, your behavior, now you can do something you weren’t capable of doing before.
You see, you’re an entirely different person because of that.
And then you realize that you have to chase your fears, you have to pursue your dreams relentlessly.
You realize how simple it was all along.
You were just holding yourself back…
The thing is, you’ll never become fearless. And there will always be pain involved.
And, sadly, yes, you’ll be defeated from time to time, but nothing will ever be able to destroy you.
That’s why we must never become comfortable. We find a certain equilibrium and we try to hold on to it for as long as possible…life will destroy us. Things will get taken from us, for no particular reason other than the fact the only constant in life is change.
I used to define myself in the following way: “I’m Cristian Mihai, Romanian blogger and writer. I’m kind of a nice guy, but I don’t really like to meet new people. I don’t like to dance. And I’m pretty sure sometimes I’m invisible. Also, I’m kind of ugly. And skinny too. Oh, and I’m way too sensitive, and I get angry at people for the stupidest of reasons and I try to hurt them because of that and then I regret it. And, sadly, I’ve lost so many people that all I can do is miss them and hope some of them will one day decide to come back.”
Weak, isn’t it?
To paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut, I wasn’t a man, but a broken kite.
I spent most of my time dreaming about this imaginary future when I’ll be rich and famous and handsome and happy, and in the rare moments I tried to do something, I’d inevitably give up and just…you know…I’d put the blame on others.
I’d always ask myself why bad things had to happen to me. And I’d stare around and compare my life to those of others and I’d feel like everyone was much happier than I was.
You see, I’ve let each and everyone of those who left take a piece of my soul until I felt worthless. I’ve let each setback take a little bit of my hope until I felt that I wasn’t strong enough to carry on.
Until one day, when it was just so painful to be me that I just couldn’t…the cost of being me was becoming too great to pay anymore.
So I decided to change. And this too was painful.
It hurt, you know, and it felt like something was pulling me back into the person I used to be every single time I wanted to escape my former self.
So many times before life had beaten me to my knees…now I just decided to crawl towards who I wanted to become…
I decided to work out, to go out and meet people, to have fun, to enjoy all the little things in life.
I faced my fears, big or small, and I killed some old and nasty habits. I tried to be more optimistic about life, and I struggled to see the good in others.
I’m not going to lie, it’s not easy. But it’s worth it, and, you know what? Hard is what makes it great.
To be continued…