Ever since I can remember, I have always been a defeatist. I wasn’t born with a particularly exceptional talent, and to my small, and feeble mindset then: that was normal. You’re normal. Sure, I had dreams of pursuing film-making, and writing for the longest time, but it never really came anywhere near to taking off. At least, specifically the film-making part. Looking back now, I can conclude that I didn’t want it bad enough.
It took me quite a long time to un-condition myself out of that self-fulfilling defeatist mindset that was probably the cause of some of my earlier failures: academe, dating, career choices but I’m in no authority to really confirm that so I would just leave this as a strong assumption, and being someone who don’t really dwell in the past, I have no plans of further examining that beyond my personal theories. At the end of the day, no-one, and I mean, no-one really knows who I am other than myself. Already, I consider that as an advantage to my current, and future choices.
Part of that un-conditioning is relearning what I know for sure is true, and valuable, and the good thing about living in 2019 is that there’s no limit to what we can learn, for as long as we have the tendency (and time) to do so, and to me, I’ve set my priorities to a few things I’m committed to improving and digging deeper: Physical & mental health, Stoicism & other spiritual pursuits, and the technical studies (Product design, UX & frontend development). Truthfully, and I don’t know if this is a good thing, I get tempted mostly by a few books in between that don’t necessarily fall into those categories, such as urban design (The Death & Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs), history (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl) and business/economics (The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford), among many others. Tempted is such a weak word for I will be lying if I said I’m not seduced by the idea of devouring more and more of these kinds of books, and information, for as long as I can, in between long subway rides to Brooklyn, and back to New Jersey. I have found that reading is the best antidote to a typically stressful commute.
Everyone has a way of coping with adversities, and from experience, most solid but impersonal solutions aren’t a one-size-fits all template. Just like our individual preferences, the framework of an ideal life (and lifestyle) varies depending on the individual’s needs, history, desires et cetera and I’ve tried a multitude of things, and paths, and even potential external voices to listen to but only a few have really made a mark on me, leaving the rest to be discarded without second thoughts necessary.
Here’s what I know to be helpful so far and some of which, I’ve picked up from this amazing podcast episode:
- Prioritize health, above all. Then finance. Then happiness. (not the other way around)
- Stay away from obnoxious crowds. They are distracting, and boring.
- In a civilized society, you are expected to respect people but you aren’t required to let them live rent-free in your head any longer than they should.
- Ordinary but stable and authentic life trumps any other version of it that doesn’t have integrity, and is incredibly superficial. The price and the goal is internal, not external.
- Introversion isn’t a weakness, it’s a superpower. Loud doesn’t always signify importance, or power. Don’t be that person in the room.
- Reading is a personal investment with infinite returns.
- Be picky but mindful about how you’re bartering time: media consumption, company of people, conversations you want to be a part of, extra-curricular activities, et cetera.
- “One of those is only associate with people where you don’t have to drink to be around them.” — Naval Revikant
I know I’m still a work-in-progress. Arguably, on a remarkably slow progress, but progress nonetheless. I could make a mistake or two, or three, or even ten moving forward, but the biggest one I could possibly do is to not try at all. If there’s even a remote chance that I could be somebody, I am the type to hang on, until the world somehow forces me to drop it.
Until then, I keep trying. (Even when Yoda says otherwise, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” — Yoda). You know you’re unto something when you’re already going against Yoda…