How to Find the Self-Confidence to Stick With Things
Does it feel like your life is held together with string?
And if so, have you asked yourself why? Have you wondered about alternatives?
Many of us are reactive rather than proactive. Instead of taking action, we expect opportunities to come and find us; instead of striving openly for happiness we seek refuge in apathy and cynicism because we’re so afraid of failure we’d rather not try anything.
It’s easier to let life disappoint us than to surprise ourselves with what we might achieve if only we put our mind to it.
Little by little, year after year, we lose faith in our own innocence, uniqueness, and capacity for change. Transformation becomes an abstract, the preserve of those desperate or greedy enough to conjure it up.
That we took could emulate them and forge our own path with a little creativity and hard work doesn’t even occur to us. It’s much easier to give in to envy and dismiss those who succeed than to use said envy as inspiration.
Many of us are risk-averse by nature, chiefly because we don’t have enough curiosity or imagination to come up with alternatives to what is.
Nurturing the shallow belief that what’s happening to us is either unusual or undeserved is a lot easier than seeking to remedy the problem. And so we cry “Woe is me” and cling to self-pity as if it were a security blanket, whining that life is unfair.
It isn’t; life is neutral. Bearing in mind it’s impossible to control everything, what we do with the life we have dictates how we feel about it. With self-awareness comes great responsibility; once we understand we don’t know what we don’t know, life opens up.
The humility to acknowledge our shortcomings and limitations is the first step toward transcending them.
Alas, daily life rewards pragmatism rather than introspection.
Guided by self-preservation, few of us are into the habit of thinking deeply lest we should dislike what truths we uncover about ourselves. It’s much easier to blame others when things go wrong than take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask ourselves what we could have done differently.
We tend to dwell in echo chambers that confirm and reinforce our prejudices and opinions instead of being curious about those who don’t share them. And we seek solace in the comfort of predictability, routines, and schedules. While those are often necessary to maintaining a high level of productivity, they can also kill creativity. The ability to connect random dots needs movement and disruption to happen; stagnation precludes it.
It’s possible to strike a balance between tried and tested processes that get results and flexibility but how many of us bother figuring it out?
Out of facility, we cling to the mirage of potential to convince ourselves we have what it takes to achieve greatness, to do and be better… one of these days.
A friend of mine was convinced he was so smart he could become fluent in French in one afternoon, without the slightest hint of irony. So convinced that he never even tried to make a sentence. And yet, much like everything worth pursuing in life, language acquisition is a skill rather than an enthusiasm. No matter how fascinating the process, it’s always a deeply humbling one that calls for the willingness to make innumerable mistakes.
And learn from them.
Almost everything is endurable.
We settle because it’s easy and then we wonder why we’re miserable but it doesn’t stop us from declaring ourselves our most loyal cheerleader. Often, this happens out of necessity rather than conviction, to keep up appearances despite being aware of how mediocre our life is.
We take unpleasantness in our stride until it becomes so familiar it’s comfortable. We learn to live with daily humiliation, we learn to live with the absence of love, we learn to live with the lack of human warmth. We endure the seemingly unendurable with resignation; sometimes, it makes us sick, other times, it kills us.
If mental illness can be a sane reaction to a world that seems to be careening out of control, it can also lead to suicide. When we forget about the innate human capacity to reinvent ourselves as many times as needed, we accept the present as immutable even though it is fleeting.
Without critical distance, we lose all sense of perspective, we lose hope, and we eventually lose a clear sense of self too. Not only is it in our nature to be terrified of failure and rejection, but we’re seldom good judges of character when hampered by sentimentalism.
Were we to set our enormous egos aside more often and allow ourselves to slide into the driver’s seat, we would see we can steer our life in many directions. Some are clearly signposted, others are dirt roads that may or may not lead anywhere; the only way to find out is to keep driving and enjoy the journey.
Finding the self-confidence to stick with things is as simple as allowing life to surprise us and being endlessly curious about it. Curiosity alone can bypass circumstances and conjure up possibilities we haven’t even dreamed of yet.
It starts with having the courage to go toward the unknown and finding the humility to feel our way forward in the dark, knowing we’re bound to stumble and trip often. The more we do it though, the less daunting it gets until we can no longer remember how we ever managed to live differently.