“Don’t ask for guarantees. And don’t look to be saved in any one thing, person, machine, or library. Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were heading for shore.” — Ray Bradbury
“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” — Carl Rogers
Every night is a dark night of the soul; fear and loathing overwhelm you whenever you stare in a mirror or think about your actions. You fail at everything you do. You struggle with low self-esteem, high-functioning depression, and social anxiety.
How do you change that?
For most of my twenties, there were so many things I didn’t want to be true about myself, yet I somehow thought them to be facts.
Goals are essential to our happiness. Working towards a worthy goal ensures that we live a life that is meaningful and fulfilling.
If so, why do we fail at most of our goals? Why do we struggle with motivation?
If our vision of the future is so compelling, if we know why we want it, if we know how to get it, then why do we struggle to do it?
There’s this fun experiment I’d often try with folks. I’d ask them to imagine themselves winning the lottery.
They’d tell me all the things they’d do with the money, all the places they’d travel to, all the stuff they’d buy.
“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”
― William Shakespeare
Everyone wants the beach body, but no one wants to lift heavy weights.
Everyone wants to publish a book, but no one wants to write four hours every day.
Everyone wants to be a millionaire, but…
I am fast approaching 30.
Three decades of making mistakes, being broke, depressed, lonely, anxious, feeling guilty, powerless, hopeless.
Three decades of trying to conquer the world, trying to conquer myself, trying to change the world, or just those closest to me.
I’ve lost my way more times than I can count. I’ve failed, time and time again. I’ve tried my best, from time to time. I’ve cried, I’ve won, I’ve lost.
To be 30 means that my view of the world should have crystallized by now. Well, I still have almost six months to figure things out, but I can certainly say that wasting my twenties was one of the best decisions I have ever made without thinking too much.
Consider the following rules as me sharing what took me most of my twenties to figure out.
According to this website there are 7,796,402,449 people in the world right now. It’s got to be true because it’s on the Internet, right?
Out of all these billions of people, you will only ever interact with a small percentage of them, you will only ever care about those closest to you, physically and emotionally, the ones you understand, the ones who understand you.
But at the same time, and I’m sure you noticed this, there are certain traits or habits that we absolutely loathe in others?
Where one lives or where one grows up often forms the cornerstone of their identity. For generations, city-derived nouns sufficed as labels: Angeleno, New Yorker, Bostonian, et cetera. But once the telephone became ubiquitous, the concept of place found a new expression in the form of the area code, and today one finds area code tee shirts, hats, and pendants representing cities across the nation. People even sport area code tattoos, a practice initially adopted by street gangs. Such declarations of territory have become commonplace and suggest a preference for tribal identity despite living in the modern day.
But how cohesive is that tribe? In cities plagued by disappearing communities and broken families, might affinity for an area code symbolize the fantasy of neighborhood? By identifying with a particular region on the grid, one seeks to ground oneself in a rapidly changing world. The inclination is natural, but are the…
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“When this ultimate crisis comes… when there is no way out — that is the very moment when we explode from within and the totally other emerges: the sudden surfacing of a strength, a security of unknown origin, welling up from beyond reason, rational expectation, and hope.”
― Émile Durkheim