When I was younger (there I said it) I remember being quite unhappy about myself. Unsatisfied. It was a white noise that I’d try to cover with menial activities. A rock band. Eating a lot. Some beers (not too many honestly). Football. Smoking. World of Warcraft. Reading. As most people of any age, I would not think about myself a lot, and why would I. When I did, I would get anxious.
I’m talking 20/25 yo. I was decently normal, decently smart, had friends who loved me and whom I loved. A girlfriend. My family was extremely supportive. Money was not an issue.
Maybe it’s pretty normal to not know what to do with yourself, I don’t know. I mean, I cannot possibly be sure that I was more uncertain about myself and who I was and where I was going, than any other guy at that age. What I do know, is I had no desired direction. Like, at all.
I thought back then, when things were sour, that this was the reason: why don’t I have a direction? Am I not normal? I should be different! Better!
But in time, what happened is I managed to escape that spiral by which I’d blame myself for being who I was. That’s it: I do not have a specific far-fetched objective, and I should not blame myself for it. It’s OK, I don’t have it now, I might have it in the future.
When I did have a direction, I understood why it was important to try and have one: your strength is pushed to the limit, you do better things than you thought were possible, you achieve amazing results. But not having a direction is OK, too. You should not force it upon yourself.
So the epiphany was: unhappiness and negative thinking stem from forcing things upon yourself. Happiness does not come from things and activities imposed from the outside by the dozens of New-York-Times-number-one self-improvement books we are suggested at work: pushing hard, jogging every morning, reading 3 books a month, being promoted, climbing the ladder. None of that. A good balance comes from you just accepting who you are, embracing your flaws and strengths, and on the back of that doing all those cool things you read from your Silicon Valley guru. Not the other way around. Now I do wake up at 5.30 every day: but it does not make me feel good; rather, I feel good, hence I wake up at 5.30. I have a small set of vices that I satisfy entirely, and don’t want to make without. I need eating pizza and playing videogames, as much as I need hitting the gym or reading. Accepting my vices was a fundamental step towards a happier living.
Soundtrack: Magnolia by The Pineapple Thief