If you told my preteen self that within several years he would feel guilty every time he doesn’t do something that will bolster him closer to his goal, he would go mental. Not only because he didn’t foresee this earlier back then, but also because it would not match with where he was at that time.
It is not probably the best indicator to guess what the future holds, but recent events might give me some idea about it. I was set on very different course than the one I choose to embrace today. Not that it is the complete reverse to one another, it was just unthinkable at the time when I look back to it.
I remember when I wanted to make it into petroleum engineering. Back then like everybody else, an adolescent me thought that it would be easier to make money from there. Beamed like a kid, I learned everything there is to know about the subject. But life, like it does to everything in this world, re-routed those dreams and turned it into something that never made the vaguest appearance in my imagination.
Today I feel very blessed to be able to learn something I like. It wasn’t handed on to me on silver plate. Despite the story, I am not a believer of pre-destined fate. I know anybody can set their own course and chase their desire, wherever, whenever. With no exception, I believe those decisions, hard work, luck, and ‘fate’ are the reason why I have steered me to have unhealthy obsession towards something I really like.
Of course I can not say I have made it because practically I haven’t. However, I felt a little bit more pressure the more I dive deeper into the ocean. It is probably because every motivational article that I can surf to said that the key to seize my dream is by working harder than ever. To their understanding, reaching a goal is perceived as something that only the hardest worker in the room could reach and what makes it worse is that I keep succumb to this unchallenged notion.
You can’t change human nature, and desiring about things we haven’t had is the most mundane thing a human can do. I thought it was a good source of motivation until I realized that it took a lot of sacrifice to satisfy my desire. I will have to safeguard my goal by crushing the laziness and obstacles along the way if I want to feel good about myself. Without me realizing it, my brain is wired to skip logical explanation off my eyes and instead focus on what I lack so far. I can say as far that society has successfully altered the way I perceive happiness and that is some trap I will struggle to escape from.
I have been told since I was a kid that laziness is something that I must avoid at all cost. For years, I have constructed this perspective and ensured over time that this trait will cancel my potential. My brain works like an autopilot and this concept has led me to build unconscious bias that a good worker is those who are not lazy and be functioned 24/7. If you ask me personally, I will never condoned any form of laziness, especially when one has unresolved tasks that he/she will need to finish.
However, I feel that the moment when I decided to trade my time for continuously working and improving myself is the moment when I kind of lost a part of myself. Sure, I began to receive a wider recognition since then and that decision also put myself in a good position to actually learn what I like. My younger self never thought that I would put myself in this bracket (and what I have achieved so far is anything but mind-boggling). To get this straightforward, I believe that learning constantly to add more value to our surroundings are as noble as we can get. But hey, I think I kind of miss my hey day when I could still play video games 4-5 hours a day without feeling like a giant dog turd.
It is not to say that I don’t like it when the future looks better. It is just I can’t help but think that I feel slightly less human than ever. Everyday I get people yelling and screaming to me internally that I am not good enough and should better myself. I’m not saying that I speak for my fellow students, but from what I’ve learned, dancing to the drumbeat of my detractors could only mean one thing: losing. I feel like I am very concerned with being the best version of ourselves while giving up the need to be humanised at the same time.
In a wider picture, I also wonder whether being lazy is the feasible counter-measure, especially when I can not sacrifice more time than necessary to calm my mind and find a part of myself that have been lost. The main reason why I grind as hard as I do is because I need the reward to survive, and I suspect many of you who are reading this at this very moment feel the same too. We know that the level of competition out there is staggering and in the wake of technology, any uncalculated laziness could be costly. So it’s not like we don’t have much choices although disrupting these norm would make us feel like a sheep among wolf packs. Having said that, life, in its truest sense, feels a lot like a dick-measuring contest.
I am not saying that the most logical way to put an end to this longstanding fear is by abandoning our responsibility and just do what we want. At best, we all play an integral part within the society and whether we like it or not, we are expected to not leave our role. At worst, we still need jobs to put foods on the table.
I don’t want to go into details here, but I believe the best attempt to lessen the impact is to simply accept the reality because the fundamental where our society are built upon aren’t going to change anytime soon. Knowing these facts are inevitably correct, it doesn’t hurt to say that living the life that I really want is now just a mere pipe dream.
Some people use yoga or seek professional help to overcome those setbacks and regain the lost focus so they can repurpose their life and be a better individual. However, I beg to differ. I don’t think that’s a cure, but more like a recurrent medicine in those infinity loop. We will do it, feeling exhausted, depressed, do it again, repeatedly, infinitely. And under constant social pressures, we are bound to do such things. I am not being pessimistic here, but isn’t that about time that we acknowledge the bitter truth?
Our society only reward hard work and the only way to do it is to sacrifice in just about every other area possible. We live in a world where we are supposed to feel slightly less human so that we can feel less human for a little bit longer and perhaps, that is the best thing we can do. By embracing the situation, finding the right hobby, go back grinding for 5 days straight, and just live.
When our detractors try to put us down, maybe it’s best for us to just shrug it off and be who we are. Done is better than perfect anyway. And I know this sounds obvious, but we will not be here forever. Although the best answer to what the most effective way to find the balance point between feeling like a mortal and grinding like a machine is yet to be found, but at least we already know what doesn’t work. What we need to do right now is to acknowledge the fact that life is an endless series of problems and our existential selves are here for a very short brief. That’s the sole reason why my suggestion for my readers right now is to pick the least poisonous problems of all, try to live around it, and just move on to the next chapter. Drink up the poison, and try to live our life to the fullest.
Because life is a constant loop of feeling bad about ourselves, maybe better embrace it.