Humans are habitual creatures. We do what we are trained to do. We are our habits.
(This is why accomplished people say success is a habit and a practice, with some luck sprinkled in)
And for most of my life I labored under the facade that society provided me. As long as I did exactly what others wanted me to do, I would always be guided and have my hand held as I precariously tiptoed through life. In doing so, I built up habits tied to thoughtless conformity and dependence on social validation.
Prime example: In the education system you are continually being prepared for the “next step”. Elementary to Middle to High School to College (if you’re fortunate) to a Career in whatever field you studied. So all the AP/Honors classes, standardized test prep, bullshit volunteer work, exist primarily to make your resume look good. To signal to all the employers that you are willing to put up with more bureaucratic crap and busywork than your competing classmates.That is the “dream” that we are unknowingly being sold and unconsciously living out.
*Of course, I’m just speaking of the competitive American culture that I’ve experienced but I know similar high-pressure processes happen in countries such as India or Taiwan (and probably many others, depending more on the demographic than geographic).
So when I broke out of this color-by-numbers way of living, I expected all hell to break loose. My past experiences and training had ingrained in me the belief that I was committing the ultimate sin — letting down my parents, peers, and other proctors of my life by denouncing everything they wanted me to be.
In reality though, nothing terrible happened. My external front of relatability to those around me had finally been shed. For the first time, I felt truly alone. Then I realized that I had actually been alone the whole time.
This isn’t some worldwide conspiracy out to get me and keep me down as a cog in the system. I’m not nearly important enough to be targeted like that. This is merely a result of the structure of our advanced capitalism. In fact, most people I encounter are empathetic and kind. The system doesn’t dictate the individual’s personality, just their habits and therefore their lifestyle.
I’m not angry or disillusioned about this anymore. There isn’t a point. It’s a waste of time and energy to associate yourself with snooty hipsters getting high off lavish, unfounded pride in a massive circlejerk. Eventually, I saw that getting frustrated, cynical, or apathetic just paralyzed me into more inaction. And ironically, that communal helplessness of the masses is exactly what feeds the system and keeps it running in all its “productive” glory.
In reality, this entire rant is not at all inspired by any grand plans to incite my peers into a reformatory revolution. It’s just how I can try to begin to comprehend and explain why I’m scared of writing.
A simple blank page. Machines, which even in their primitive form allowed people to type at obscenely high rates.
Physically, there is nothing, NOTHING stopping me from putting down whatever junk is floating around in my head. But it’s not that simple. Because of what I just described.
I’m scared because so few do it well.
I’m scared because I’m making myself vulnerable.
I’m scared because no one told me I could.
I’m scared because no one will ever read this.
I’m scared because no one will think it’s any good.
I’m scared because I might upset somebody.
I’m scared because people will look at me differently.
I’m scared because telling everyone that I can write is much easier and safer than showing them.
I’m scared because it could lead to expectations (of fame, fortune, admiration, the gamut of creative sins).
I’m scared but there’s no real reason to be.
Complete fearlessness is irrational (and probably bad for survival).
Courage isn’t about being fearless. It’s about being flippin’ scared shitless and doing it anyway.