so i know i’ve been writing about this topic a lot, hence the “identity” page on this blog. but, in all honesty,
what kind of person are you and can you really be who you want to be?
there are entrepreneurs - they carry with them an aura of “coolness”, or urgency, of being able to predict the next tech trends. designers - they have quality taste in everything and almost fit “perfectly” anywhere. writers, i haven’t encountered them personally too much but i think they read and think a lot. musicians sing and write songs, and salespeople love talking and socializing.
so what am i and what do i fit under? none of them.
i thought i was a writer but i have shit vocabulary and i don’t even like reading literature much. i thought i could be a designer but if i really wanted to, then i would have learned photoshop or at least some Adobe software by now. and as for an entrepreneur, if i really wanted to be one, then why haven’t i created a product yet, why haven’t i done anything with my ideas yet.
because i’m shit.
honestly (and i’m even afraid to admit this to myself), my main problem is that i tend to dabble in projects here and there and never finish them because i lack persistence. i lack drive, motivation, the hard dire need to keep going. i lack grit. i lack that fervor of passion in my veins that urges me to charge forward, take risks, and keep going forever even when i feel lonely af.
and i guess that’s okay. most people are like that. (apparently only 8% of people achieve their new year’s resolutions). there are so few people who can proudly say that “this is who i am and i’m an expert at doing this.” so few who start a project and actually push through with it.
but if i want to be above average and ultimately land a job i love at a company i love, then i need to start becoming one of the 8%.
after analyzing myself a bit, i realized there are four factors detaining me from success:
1. i don’t like suffering, like 100% of the human population.
even doing something you love requires very strong perseverance. let's repeat that. even doing something you love requires very strong perseverance. this is something i learned too late. Generation Y grew up with phrases like “do what you love,” and “follow your passion” (read more here), making work seem easy - you'll have so much fun you'll forget the time!
but reality doesn't work that way. even your hobbies will become boring or difficult at some point - you will then need further perseverance to keep going. take me for example. i love writing, but i don't want to write everyday. to accomplish that goal, i have to force myself to sit at my desk, use my brain, and crank out something that i believe is worthy to publish.
there’s a difference between laboring through something you love and doing something just for pleasure. binge watching mad men is pleasure (for me, at least), and posting on Instagram. it gives me the sense of being productive and an immediate recognition (from the likes). you may love doing that, but those are relatively easy tasks that don't require much brainwork. it’s not laboring through something. and i think that’s where the quotes above can be easily misunderstood.
just having an interest is not enough to drive you through sleepless nights. you have to be willing to put yourself through shit. for me, that means sitting at a desk in front of a laptop forcing myself to write or read or whatnot when it seems that everyone else (at least based off social media) is outside having fun.
the ability to sacrifice or even suffer for what you love is often underrated. the ability to push through pain would be true perseverance.
2. i fear being seen as a hypocrite.
to get better at something, you have to at least be willing to seek for help. to get better at writing, you must be willing to say that you are a writer. but i always shrink back.
what right do i have to call myself a writer when there are plenty other people my age who are better than me?
i’m scared, that’s all. i’m scared of being judged. because even after all i’ve written, i haven’t really accomplished much. i give self-help advice but oftentimes, i can’t even follow my own advice.
i need to stop fearing being judged so much..
3. i get bored easily.
if you know me well, you probably know i have a lotta different notebooks, along with a lotta notes on my phone, evernote, and stickies. they’re scattered, and messy.
new ideas come to me all the time. sudden realizations, lessons i learned, or new ideas for my blog. problem is, i’m drawn to new things and i get tired of the old very quickly.
i have a category just for this website on evernote, and it is literally filled with unfinished posts and random phrases. i can’t finish things. not only does this apply to writing, but it also applies to reading, and other matters.
it’s an endless shit cycle (i know i’ve used this line already, but it encapsulates the gist of the sad part of my life pretty well).
i can probably blame endless social media feeds for this, but really, it's my fault. i need to be able to retain my interest in one area and focus. the ability to concentrate in this age is so important.
4. i like blaming others.
i rarely take responsibility for my own actions. i owe this flaw to my childhood, in which lying meant getting away with my actions while telling the unfavorable truth meant punishment.
when i got bad grades in high school, i blamed it on my mom. she forced me too much and i like voluntarily working, relying on my intrinsic motivation. when i didn't have good friends in high school, i also blamed it on my mom, who restricted me from hanging with friends too often. but the truth is that i just didn't try.
i wasn't willing to put myself through discomfort.
so, what now?
here are two “life philosophies" i came up with one day that will sustain my motivation during hard times.
1. practice mental toughness/the ability to tolerate suffering.
2. get in as many uncomfortable situations as possible/take risks.
practice mental toughness:
back in my cross country days, one of our coaches was famous for a line he yelled: “running is mental.” i never fully understood what that meant until one of our weekly 5K time trials. during the last 400 meters, i decided to close my eyes, and something changed.
the exhaustion and shortness of breath suddenly seemed trivial. with my eyes closed, i could only hear the wind growling beside me; my legs took off as if they were a separate entity. the long road in front of me and the fear of whether i could last till the end suddenly dissipated. it was a weird sensation. i felt like i could fly if i really wanted to.
even if you love running, there will be a point when you want to stop and quit. your heart is thumping, your throat is dry, and your limbs just want to collapse so you can fall on the ground and stop this pain.
but to truly break through and obtain your goals, you must be able to persist through pain.
running is an extended example - lets look at working at our desk. it’s summer break (for me) and i’m nineteen. i’m young, why should i be working during the summer? i don’t have anything i need to do, no homework, nothing to practice for, no test coming up, no work to be done for my internship etc. why am i forcing myself to sit here?
i’d like to just spend the day watching movies and laying down in my bed with a bag of chips next to me, but that’s pleasure and comfort. that’s living a dog’s life.
wake up, eat, play, sleep, repeat. what’s the point of that? i was born a human for a reason. we have aspirations and the will to put ourselves through shit to obtain such goals. we are born with infinite potential, and it is up to us to live up to that, to satisfy our innate hunger for knowledge and keep going until we can’t.
the modern age has just imposed way more distractions on us than in the decades before, making concentration much harder and willpower even more important.
getting used to discomfort on a daily basis will be useful. small things like not eating snacks even when you're really craving them, or continuing your exercise for one extra minute, or waking up at 8AM consistently because you typically sleep till 10. small things like that will allow you to build your ascetic habits, making you more accustomed to discipline.
get used to fear:
"do something you’re scared of everyday" - Eleanor Roosevelt
for me, that’s talking to strangers, no doubt. sitting next to someone i don’t know at lunch and not knowing what to say but desperately wanting to talk - that’s the worst feeling.
but i know that this skill is so important. for networking, making connections, and for my own wellbeing. socializing makes me happier, so if i really can get through the initial panicking, and open up more, then i will truly be who i want to be.
let's try to stick to these. hope this helped!
the blunt artist