I respond quickly to instruction. I think of the ideal person as a rebel and a free spirit, but I, myself, am often the good soldier. I can be motivated, inspired, or driven to do a lot of things I do not particularly like doing or want to do. However, I enjoy a challenge; I need pushes.
I have spent a lot of time trying to push myself. There were a few years where–no matter the weather–I ran every single day. I hated it most of the time. I loved when it was over. Never really experienced a “runner’s high,” but I still forced myself (most of the time) to hit the path. I have gotten myself to enter competitions, seek awards, ask for work that I did not want personally, but wanted to want. It’s pretty weird, but also not so weird, I imagine.
Lately, I have been focusing my energy and efforts on actually attempting to achieve my true personal goals and desires (fraught as they are). That has been liberating in more ways than one.
My big takeaway from this new focus is a sense of knowing “the score”: I know if an opportunity is really helpful to me. I know if someone’s advice or encouragement is pushing me towards my goals or pulling me away from them because I defined the terms.
My greatest supporter these days–my girlfriend, Alexi–knows what my goals are and she doesn’t let me stray far from them. She is willing to push me hard to stay focused and keep climbing. Her support is not always soft support. She is willing to demand more of me (in a loving way) than maintaining the status quo. Alexi’s support and these pushes are essential to my success (if I achieve any).
The world wants you to be disaffected, uncertain, lost, and lacking clear goals. If you are lost, the world can tell you where to go. If you are on your path, the world is either with you or against you; it cannot be a nebulous, constant guide.
If you are not careful, the world will make you into what it needs. So, I would recommend defining your own terms. Give yourself three things you want to achieve and then start working to bring them to fruition. The ambiguities of the world will start to fall away as you see the world in neat groups of supporters and obstacles.
My three personal things are: (1) be a writer, (2) run for office, and (3) coach a baseball or football team.
I may not achieve these things, but at least I know where I’d like to head personally. Of course, I have non-personal goals too. Those also help shape where I’d like to be and how I view my options in the context of a busy and confusing world. I’m not going to share those here though.
So, in sum, find your three things; find a person to share them with; and let that person push you. Don’t let the world tell you what your things are. Allow yourself the freedom to see the world on your terms.
Be a rebel by disregarding the world’s imperatives; be a good soldier by doggedly adhering to your own.