Dang. Keepin it real.
Some people are born to travel.
Dsaang! What a dope scene. So true too. I whole-heartedly believe that it is never too late or too early to change, grow, and develop yourself into whoever it is you want to be. I’m going to be honest, I dislike a lot of things about myself to this day. I don’t know if it’s because of my environment growing up or if it was the way my parents raised me or if the media is to be blamed but I have a lot of bad habits and traits that I’d like to shed. However, I’m not nearly as bad as I used to be. Not even close! I know that I’ve grown ridiculous amounts in terms of being a better human being and it’s because I consciously sought after changing myself and my surroundings rather than going with the flow that life had poured for me.
In line with the advice from David Cain’s article that I reblogged a little before this post (if you haven’t read it yet READ IT because it’s one of those life-changing articles that only comes around every once in awhile), I really encourage you all to think deeply about why you do the things you do. Do you follow Christianity or Buddhism? Why? Do you like living in the country you were born and raised in? What about your job? Do you think you would be better at something else? Most of the major aspects of our lives were not consciously decided by us so isn’t it only natural to consider the possibility that there are other people and places and religions and philosophies and interests that truly resonate with our cores? I am all for appreciating what one has and making the best of every circumstance, but sometimes change can be good. And some of those changes may have you wondering how you ever lived without it before. Seek out what really makes you come alive because it might not be what you have right now.
So this video started going around my facebook today, with about a dozen of my female friends sharing the link with comments like, and “Everyone needs to see this”, and “All girls should watch this,” and “This made me cry.” And I’m not trying to shame those girls! I definitely understand why they would do so. And I don’t want to be a killjoy. But as I clicked the link and started watching the video, I started to feel a slight sense of discomfort. I couldn’t put my finger on why that was, exactly, but it continued throughout the whole thing. After watching the video several more times, I have some thoughts…
“…The career you end up working in depends chiefly on what you saw as options when you were just starting to enter the workforce. That was a very narrow period of time, during which you were only aware of a limited number of options. You went with whatever made sense at that time. The result — what you do today — is more or less happenstance.
Friends too, are mostly in our lives as defaults. Most of us have found some incredible and inspiring people just by letting happenstance deliver them, but once we have some stable friendships we become complacent and stop actively looking for friends that really resonate with our values and interests, if we ever did at all.
Where you live is even more random, more difficult to change, and it may have the greatest effect of all the structures, because it determines the rest. You were born somewhere. If you moved, it was probably for work or for a relationship. A minority of people do move to a particular city because they think they’ll be happier there than anywhere else. They are seeking the optimum place to live for their values, or at least close to it. But most of us become too established in one place to seriously consider moving once we hit 30.
Friends, location and career tend to define the other one: what you do with your time. Your habits and your hobbies. Your routines, your typical Saturday night activities, your wardrobe, your pursuits and personal projects are all suggested by (and constrained by) what your defaults are in the other categories. If you happened to grow up in Nebraska, you probably don’t surf. But surfing might just be the thing that really would turn your crank like nothing else, if you were lucky enough to discover that.
So much of our lives consists of conditions we’ve fallen into. We gravitate unwittingly to what works in the short term, in terms of what to do for work and what crowd to run with. There’s nothing wrong with living from defaults, necessarily, but think about it: what are the odds that the defaults delivered to you by happenstance are anywhere close to what’s really optimal for you?
In other words, we seldom consciously decide how we’re going to live our lives. We just end up living certain ways.
In all likelihood, what you’ve inherited is nowhere near what’s best for you. Chances are very slight that there isn’t a drastically better neighborhood for you out there, a more kindred circle of peers, a much better line of work, and a much more rewarding way to go about your day than the way you do. Your level of fulfillment and sense of peace with the world depend on how well-matched your values are to the life you’re actually living. There’s no reason to believe they’ll match well by accident.
The most natural-feeling course for your life is to do what you’re accustomed to doing, live where you’re accustomed to living, seek what you’re accustomed to seeking. So be careful. I’m convinced that all of my major problems are due to going with the defaults, either too afraid or too oblivious to make major changes to them.
As a culture, we do a whole lot of maintaining, rationalizing, procrastinating and reinforcing, and not very much thinking about what’s really best for us and the drastic changes we might need to make to get there.
So what does this mean? It means if you’re a normal person you can expect that a lot of categories of your life are set up in highly inefficient ways, by default. Certain areas of life could be all wrong for you and you have no idea how good it could be on other side of the fence. It also means that wherever you recognize a persistent source of grief in your life, there is probably a different way to set up your life that could eliminate it or greatly reduce it. It could be a major change, like ending your marriage, or it could just be moving to a different neighborhood in the same city.
Major changes are intimidating, but think about it — most of the time when you hear somebody talk about making a major change in their life, like changing cities or careers, a year later they’ll say it put them in a far better place. They tell you they don’t know how they lived before.
That’s a feeling worth seeking out. That specific feeling — which comes in the wake of a major change — of wondering how you ever got along before.
The bottom lines, if I haven’t been clear:
It is typical in human lives to feel like something huge is missing or unsettled.
It is typical for the major aspects of a human life (career, friends, habits and home) to be decided by happenstance, and not consciously.
The feeling of something huge being missing is probably often due to a serious mismatch between what you currently have in one of those aspects, and what is best for you in one of those aspects.
Making conscious changes to the aspects of life you’ve accepted by default can result in dramatic and immediate changes to quality of life.
Few people do this. Few people make a deliberate quest out of finding their perfect city or neighborhood, of seeking out their truly like-minded. Most of us live seventy or eighty years defending what we’ve been given, because we think it’s who we are.
At any given time, the prospect of a major change will tend to seem out of the question. This is because you believe you are what you’ve been doing this whole time. From the other side of a major change, the thought of continuing with the way things were will seem absurd.
But identity is fluid. You’ve been becoming a different person this whole time, and after making a dramatic change, you might find you’re more yourself than you’ve ever been.”
Go - M.I.
One Day (Remix) - Asaf Avidan