Everyone discovers things in their lives at different ages and different stages. Hence, to compare one’s life with another is completely futile. The lessons you have to learn are complex and unique. The time and methods you take to learn them are also unique to you. So let go of thinking that things should be one way or another, of measuring experiences and achievements. Life is not linear, so we must stop treating it so.
Something I wrote down sometime last year in my notebook of scribbles, ideas, thoughts and things I need to put down to get out of my head, and to help me when I look back at them. (So pretty much just a manual version of this blog in fact!)
On the one hand the words I wrote are stating the obvious and are so simple. Yet they keep coming up in my life and now seem quite profound. I’m pretty sure most people, if not everyone, at least in the Western world anyway, struggles and stumbles over this at different times in their life. It’s like there are these invisible pressures all throughout our lives. You have to do this, and then that, get a degree, get a car, get a mortgage, and meet the ‘right’ person and make a certain amount of money etc. And if you haven’t done all of this by a certain age then you have probably failed at life. At least that’s what society, or our inner subliminal pressures make us think. When in fact, there are examples of the very opposite all over the place. It is actually the people who intentionally ignore these pressures, or fight against them and listen to what their own being actually wants, that are really succeeding at life. The people who question all this stuff and resist it, who fight to understand what makes them happy rather than trying to buy it or just doing what the person on instagram is doing because they look happy. Who cares if you rent where you live anyway. And, if you think about it, what an insane idea that you should find one person on this massive planet that is somehow supposed to fill up every area of your life, and keep doing so, your entire life. We keep chasing money, chasing things, and ending up back where we started, wondering why we aren’t happy and why we followed this stupid, tired, and well trodden path that has been dictated to us our entire life whether we are aware of it or not.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs
It also comes down to the Paradox of choice. Watch this amazing TED talk which hits the nail on the head with this concept. This has become more and more the case every day in our current world, we are told that we can do anything we want, be anything we want, go anywhere we want, have anything we want (and put the whole country in a recession, but hey, you got the car you wanted), live anywhere, date anyone, wear anything… you get the idea. And at first glance this is freedom, so much freedom. But actually, it may just be the opposite. Because if you have even a shadow of doubt, about which dress to buy, or which person to marry, of which city you should live in or whether to quit you job and take off, well, that is debilitating, and can often lead to inaction instead of being proactive. Indecision is crippling. When you can do anything, it is often easier to do nothing, change nothing, or constantly question whether you made the right decision. And that can slowly lead you to insanity, depression and a constant anxiety over your own life. Yes I do think we can do anything, go anywhere etc, but wise words to remember are that ‘you can do anything, but you can’t do everything’.
The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz. “Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder. And learning to choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities is harder still, perhaps too hard.”
Instead, we need to take control and make decisions, but also be content with the decisions we make. And look back and realise that even if we have regrets, tell ourselves that we did something because at that point in our life it was exactly what we wanted, or what made sense to us at the time with the information we had. And that’s ok.
It takes courage to take time to step away from the mainstream and question what actually makes sense for you, but when you do you will be so free with the liberty of doing what the hell you want and where you want and why, that your whole life will change.
“He who is brave is free” – Seneca
It is so easy to be overwhelmed by choice in today’s world, there are too many distractions, too many options, with everything.
One minute I can be happy and feeling on track and then quickly get swept away on social media and suddenly I am questioning everything.
So do not compare yourself. Do not compare your one precious life and belittle your own achievements and virtues. Everyone is on their own path and we should be working harder to make our own path unique to us, and to celebrate that. To be true to our own person and personality and to not just follow the crowd and follow what someone else is doing or being.
Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are. – Kurt Cobain
Be yourself, don’t try to copy someone else, who they are, or what they do.
The world needs you to be you.
(Watch another brilliant TEDx talk here on ‘The art of being yourself’ )
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