We need each other to survive, that is a fact of life, but what of the paths we choose along the way? So many of us choose a life that is not our own. In droves we flock down the same paths towards the same ends all the while seeking fulfillment. When we don’t find it we look around in search of who or what is to blame. “Is it my overpriced college education? Is it the degree that landed me no job? Is it the job? Is it the boss? Is it my spouse? Is it my neighbor’s $75K car? Is it the money?” No on all counts. If you’re wondering who is to blame you need only look into a mirror. No one said conformity would fulfill you. Your college professor didn’t teach you how to extract meaning out of life – he taught you exactly what you signed up for. Your boss didn’t tell you that you must stay in your cube from 9 to 5 or die – you could leave any time you want. Your wife, you chose her! You chose all of these things and to make matters worse you even paid a considerable amount of money for some of them (I’m referring to the degree here guys, not the wife). For what? A degree? So what? Now you can get the job that pays you the money to buy the things that you like but don’t really need.
“But damn, that BMW would really be nice wouldn’t it? What about that apartment in the city, the one with the marble entrance and a view of the park… sure would be nice.”
It would be nice, you’re right. I would be lying if I said I didn’t desire a lifestyle of grandeur and excess – I do. But what I don’t desire, what I will not accept for myself no matter what the cost, is a life of passionless conformity and status-quo thinking. If I have to surrender all the physical possessions I have in order to do what I love, I will. But that’s the problem isn’t it… what the hell do I love? That’s not something you’re taught at any point in your life. Sure people always say it, “Do what you love, Johnny! Follow your heart!” But if you ask them how to do it, all they say is “look” (usually with squinty eyes and a hushed voice, as if it’s ground breaking advice). And when you look in your own heart to figure it out the answer is usually, “Eat Cheetos,” or “Watch TV.” And while Cheetos and TV are both pretty decent, they’re not really the answer you’re looking for. They are the easy way out. A way to avoid your fear of actually being someone and standing out above the masses.
Too many of us have potential that is stifled by fear of failure, myself included. But the important thing is to recognize your own potential and to slowly overcome your fears. Some people out there propose a revolution: “Quit your job! Sell your car! Travel the world! Do what drives you!” Inspiring… maybe, but hardly a plan for success. And success is what puts food on the table and clothes on your skin. Success is one thing you must remain mindful of regardless of what you pursue in life, because in the end, you need to eat. But the choice of how you eat, is completely up to you. Whether it’s through money earned sitting in your cube from 9 to 5 or through money earned on an airplane to Tokyo… that’s in your hands. Just make sure that you’re passionate about whatever you end up doing, because success comes infinitely easier if you do what you love. Resist the urge to be lazy and take the time to figure yourself out at your own pace. Go back to your childhood, what did you love to do? What are your hobbies now? Who are you when you’re by yourself? There are entire books written about how to find yourself so I won’t go into them here. Just know that you have every right to live the life of your dreams, believe it. And if you can find in yourself the courage to believe such a crazy thing, the perseverance to follow it through, and the passion to make it bloom, the path you carve will be trailed by memories of success and fulfillment… and at the end, well, you will have found yourself.