Why You Need To Invest In New Experiences & Shared Learning

(Ari is the imaginary 15 year old blogger who writes for Mrs. Peggy Olsen, her real Cat)

As a Startup owner of a company that creates original content for brands & individuals, the best part about my job is meeting people from varying fields online and in person.

Today I met up with a very interesting and inspiring lady, naturally, in a tea shop in Ann Arbor. She is an editor, a coach, a trainer, an AirBnB host, an author, a meet-up founder, a Yoga practitioner, a Shakespeare enthusiast, an Indian food lover and a rose buyer. She’s also about 15 years older to me. It overwhelmed me, so, I asked, how do you manage all this? She simply said,

I would get so bored if each day was the same. I want to do different things and be able to enjoy them. I like meeting new people and learning new things…

I held this thought for a while. Like clockwork, my mind went back to a small snippet of “research” I had discovered a while ago on the Internet.

You are the happiest (as an adult) if you are who your 8 year old self wanted to be.

I have tried thinking about this a lot, and I don’t have a definitive memory of what I wanted to do at that young age. Although, surely, I was asked to respond to it. We’re so obsessed with “what do you want to do when you grow older” as a culture. From fancy dresses during Halloween to birthday parties to Facebook photos and even FaceTime calls, we insist on knowing this in no uncertain terms.

What did you want to be at 8?

I wouldn’t persist, but then, it’s a question of our collective happiness. At 8, I was in a one kilometer long Jawaharlal Nehru tunnel seated in a goods truck between Kashmir and Jammu. This was the middle of an ethnic conflict and terrorism of the early 90s. All I did want was to travel and go someplace new. I had no idea what it meant. We were being forced to leave home. I was not conflicted, I was excited.

You may have had more clear ideas though…

How did you define your success?

At 15, I wanted to share stories on the radio, critique songs and books and most importantly, be able to time travel into a book and be the hero of the story. My idea of success was to be loved and appreciated by all the characters around me.

Over a period of time, I learned:

  • if everyone likes you, you’re fooling yourself
  • time travel into a book has not been invented
  • the only people who care are the ones you run away from (till you grow up)
  • venn diagrams
  • sadness is over romanticized
  • I don’t need to answer: so what do you do, what’s your visa status, are you married, do you have kids, which degrees do you have, why do you have a French flag on Facebook and not a Lebanese one, why do you like Mad Men, why do you call your parents everyday…
  • everyone can wait till you find a way into yourself
  • you don’t need to have a single profession or be put into a box that others find convenient.
  • success is being who you are and the liberty of being loved despite your flaws. Not because you were a hero to the world. But, because you’re a hero to yourself and those who care, in that you tried doing what you liked.
  • your likes change and must as you explore more
  • experiences add up. No work, education or conversation is wasted
  • …nor are hours spent on wikipedia or in the Van Gogh museum

Van Gogh did not sell a single painting in his lifetime, and thought of himself as a failure.

Investing In Learning & Experiences

Ira Glass says, there are two components you need to consider: your work and your taste. Your taste is good and often feels disappointed in what you create. It’s important to not stop, because with more experience, you get better. It’s the 10,000 hour rule. It took me a very long time to realize that creativity and success did not need to belong to one imagination or one style of thinking.

I also understood there’s no merit in reinventing the wheel. I had to start where the others before me had left and add value to it. I had to learn and add my own touch.

My Startup journey is beginning to tell me: each day be more you.

A creative, a strategist, the sales guy, a coach, a houseplant lover, a rug on rug connoisseur, a Mad Men lover, an originality addict, a writer, a teacher, a tester, a public transport advocate, a walk-everywhere philosopher, a postcard maker, an author, a Dragon dictionary app keeper, a 10,000 hour+ blogger, a chai snob, a roganjosh scientist, a reader, I could be all these each day.

It isn’t just a single individual’s aspiration , but the collective power of the platforms we’ve created. The democratization of thought, learning and work-culture that the Internet has gifted us.

We can be all we ever wanted to be at 8, or something that we just made up. With Mrs. Olsen, the cat.

There’s no stopping success, just that we all need to be open to see the opportunities and learn skills that we didn’t consider before. Learn them, then improvise. Start from an existing knowledge base.

I’m collecting a small group of people in an online workshop on November 27th at 10 am east coast, or 8:30pm India. I’m going to share my experiences on blogging and the creativity you generate for business by giving your thoughts a platform.

Why don’t you join me? Start here. And don’t forget to bring your interesting ideas along! :-)

About your blogging workshop trainer: Upasna is the co-founder of a content marketing & branding agency Brandanew.co, focused on creating original content and brand experiences. Upasna has collected postcards from over 30 countries, having lived in four. She’s been a blogger for the past 12+ years. She lives with a real husband and an imaginary cat named Mrs. Peggy Olsen in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Ari & Mrs Olsen images: Modified by author, originally found via Flickr 1 and Flickr 2 bear no resemblance to any real Ari or imaginary Mrs. Olsen.