Conformity is a natural instinct for mankind. We are born into a family, community, and culture, and we naturally feel an affinity for those who are like us, who look like us, and who understand us.
As time goes by and we have to walk our own path, we tend to huddle with those who share our interests and most importantly, those who are walking the same path, even if not by choice. This is where we are taught the pattern to move with the herd, to think the same way our group thinks, and believing what our fellow travelers believe.
Those of us with an independent streak must get that spirit tamed within us and we learn that to survive, flourish, and guarantee peace and safety within the group, we can’t think outside the set norm. That, of course, is if we just want to keep moving with the herd completely satisfied with whatever choices get made for us.
Unfortunately, this is also the best way to murder any sense of individuality within our souls. It makes it easier to abandon all critical thought, we surrender our brains to the sound of authority, and we give away our agency with full accord. It leads to the unending Olympic sport of complaining and shirking responsibility. It sets the stage for discontentment, displeasure, disappointment, depression, and the full list of psychological ailments that plague the modern person.
We choose to medicate our existential angst with addictions, escapism, seeking meaningless desires, and just dulling our senses in an attempt to silence the sound of inner pain and anger at our seemingly unbreakable shackles of serfdom.
There are amongst us those who ventured on their own and willingly chose to disbelieve in the imaginary power of the chains of conformity and walk their own path. We call them leaders, inventors, pioneers, entrepreneurs, adventurers, and heroes. We put them up on a pedestal and idolize them as magnificent, Godlike creatures, not of our mold. But this is the lie we use to deceive ourselves, to placate our ego that does feel affronted if those who are of flesh and blood, who have come from all walks of life, with or without family, with or without wealth, with or without knowledge, with or without help, can only plow a course for their own lives by simply being brave, and by embracing uncertainty. To accept that is to admit our own weakness before ourselves, which is something our big egos are not easily willing to accept. No, the lie is better. Those are mythical creatures, privileged, who had all the luck, money, help, and support that we can’t access. They’re not “normal” like us.
“Do not think that what is hard for you to master is humanly impossible; and if it is humanly possible, consider it to be within your reach.” ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Do not sweep under the rug that which makes you special. You must lean into whatever you feel is uniquely yours. Double-down on anything that lights your inner fires and see it through. Do not worry about the voice of admonition from those who love you, or those who want to use you for their benefit.
Your parents, for instance love you more than they love anyone else and more than anyone else will ever love you, but they may steer your life in the wrong direction simply out of love. They know what they know and they see what they see, and they have years of experience behind every single decision they make for you. But, they’re not you. No one else can be you. You are not your father or your mother, you’re a unique blend of millions of people who came before them that culminated in the creature who is you. You may see glimpses of mannerisms in you from a parent or a relative, but they exact ratio of each element you inherited is different for you than it is for them. No one in the world that has come before you or that will ever come after you can compete with you on being you.
There are also those who do not care one iota for your well-being and who will exploit anyone who is not on their own path with determination and purpose. They will use your aimlessness to employ you in their service working on achieving their own purposes, walking their path for them, carrying them on your shoulders, driving their carriage, running their machines, selling their products, and consuming their goods, all to their benefit, not yours.
All power, all meaning, all contentment, and all success stem from embracing your unique qualities and engaging your sense of personal agency,
Walk the path of mastery, and you will find that it is always and forever a single-player game. Even masters of the same discipline are not alike. Mastery is art and there is quite a significant deal of creativity and uniqueness involved in the life of every master of their craft, and by extension, of their life.
Do you want to be a master of your own existence or a forever slave in a world that will sacrifice you to the first new technology, machine, computer, software, or AI that can do your job better, faster, and considerably cheaper?
The year 2022 saw the dawn of AI starting to cut its teeth into simple basic applications, but sooner than we all think, AI alone will make entire industries crumble into dust. “Jobs,” no matter how well-paid they are, can disappear in a minute. You can’t afford to wait for the rug to be pulled from under your feet by following a career path. You need to start working on a type of masterful vocation that can make you ultimately irreplaceable.
There is a place in the world for all of us to be creative independent thinkers who can still contribute to the world, add value, and be of service to our fellow man. The world is not a zero-sum game if you choose to believe that it isn’t.
I say we should all start to invest in ourselves and stoke the fires of self-sovereignty, because, when push comes to shove, no one will help you but yourself, and the push is upon us, and the shove is near.
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