Photo by Daniel Cheung, from Unsplash

Believing In Yourself Is Cheap

Ever heard of that thing where idea is cheap? Well, it’s true. Ideas are really cheap. Execution is indeed everything.

And I really learned that the hard way this past year.

2016 was a year when I believed in myself, because you know, everyone says that these days. You open any social media channel and it’s hard to not notice anything that says ‘trust yourself’ in one way or another. Like a quote, or a short video, or anything really.

Here’s what I got as a result: My family thinks I’m a moron; I’ve alienated my girlfriend; I’ve squandered my job prospects because you know that a big fat blank in a CV is never a good thing; my cofounder left; and I’m broke.

Intuition. Trust yourself, believe in what you can do. Chin up high, confidence. Beam at the world with your confidence.

There’s all this myth about the gut feeling, and how decisions are made on a gut feeling because ‘I trust my intuition.’ I get it, if you hone your intuition enough you may strike gold at some point.

But really, that stuff works when you’re going through Instagram quotes. What about actually doing it?

I really need to talk about how trusting yourself can’t be a plan of action. Actually, it shouldn’t even be anything. People talk about believing in themselves all the time but I think 99% of those people are not even remotely ready to do that.

What it really is, is just a flimsy idea in the stratosphere that people try to grab because it sounds nice. A lot of ideas sound nice when it’s floating in the air. When you have to actually step into it and take responsibility for that idea, it’s the ugliest thing in the world.

Particularly because the whole thing about trusting yourself is that you’re now going to reject the conventional wisdoms built by millions of people over hundreds of years. Who are you to say, ‘it’s my way or the high way’?

Seriously, I mean, who am I to reject my parents’ honest caring advice? Who am I to cast aside my girlfriend’s pleas to make more time for dates? Who am I to say no to all my professors, and mentors that have advised me to go into certain paths? Who am I to say no to all these conventional ways of stability and financial success?

An asshole.

I realize for the past year, that this is what I have become. I’ve become an asshole. I’ve become an asshole friend, an asshole son, an asshole boyfriend, and even an asshole cofounder. Because I believe in myself.

It is a heavy price to pay, because I don’t want to be that person. I care about people whose company I enjoy. And not only that, I just never knew that believing in myself would damage me so much. I thought that it was the key to life. No? Doesn’t every damn self-help advice revolve around that notion? I mean, I see so many Medium articles about how trusting yourself is the way to go.

In fact, trusting yourself is a very costly quest. That’s what I’ve realized. Trusting yourself will take every ounce of effort you have. It also takes skill and precision. For instance, there are ways to trust yourself without being a complete asshole. There are ways to trust yourself without driving yourself to ruin.

Gut feeling isn’t just about clicking your fingers left and right. It takes a lot of introspection, practice, and readjustments.

So rather than just believing in myself, I want to pay attention to how I believe in myself, even if that may look like I’m trusting myself less. Listen to others more closely. Take their advices more sincerely, and make my moves with utmost purpose and care. Have a plan, A-Z. Screw it if I don’t make it to Z. The fact that I have a plan from the beginning to the end is what matters. Screw the whole ‘oh it’s going to turn out for the better because you know, when you trust yourself the universe opens up.’

No.

The universe doesn’t open up for ones that believe hard enough in themselves. This isn’t the goddamn Secret.

Believing in yourself is the easy part. It is how you believe in yourself that is the part that matters.

Unfortunately, it’s also the most painful part.