While being uncomfortable isn’t a joyful experience for almost anyone, dealing with discomfort is an absolutely essential part of life because it is a catalyst for personal growth.
It is entirely possible for something that brings you discomfort at one time in your life to be a source of great joy in another. For example, facing fears and pushing one’s self to try new things is frequently a turning point in many people’s lives. By confronting things that make them uncomfortable, many people learn to not just overcome the discomfort associated with those things, they can actually draw pleasure from them as well.
Think of the person with a fear of heights who takes up skydiving. Or the person with a fear of deep water learning to SCUBA dive.
Just because something doesn’t bring you joy doesn’t mean that you should disregard it. The fact is, even the less joyful aspects of our lives are important because they provide contrast and personal growth.
Being liked by everyone in life is not only unnecessary, it’s impossible. One of the shortest paths to mediocrity is living a life bound by the constraints of other people’s expectations. You are not here to be what people expect you to be.
Making a difference means running the risk of unsettling anyone who would rather have things be as they are than as they could be. If you’re not disliked or disagreed with by at least a few people at any given time, then you aren’t likely to be doing anything of any consequence.
“But if I take the path less traveled I might end up feeling lonely and isolated.”
Yes, of course you might.
And if you take a road trip, you might get a flat tire or into an accident.
And if you take a walk in the woods, a tree may fall on your head or you may be attacked by a pack of rabid squirrels.
“‘Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?’
‘Supposing it didn’t,’ said Pooh after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.” — A.A. Milne
The fact is, if you do anything in life and take any sort of risk, something “bad” may happen to you as a result.
Or it may not.
But the same could be said if you don’t do anything at all.
Some people choose to drift through life. They follow the path of least resistance and simply go wherever it leads. Their idea of an adventure may be running low on gas on the way to the gas station. Or if they are feeling especially adventurous, taking a tour guide-driven trip to an inactive volcano.
And that’s fine. Not everyone values the same things in life.
But choosing to take control of one’s life — and deliberately directing one’s self to where they want to go — will likely make one feel much more alive and in control of one’s life than the alternative of always going in the same direction to the same places as everyone else.
If you want to avoid feeling lonely and isolated at times, then following the crowd is certainly one way to attempt it. Although, it is also quite possible to sit in a room full of people and feel isolated and alone.
“Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.” — Carl Jung
In reality, there are only so many things you can control in life. But the decisions you make and the life you lead as a result of those decisions is one of them.
It’s not so much what happens to you in life that matters as how you choose to learn from and respond to what happens. Because you can’t control everything that happens, but you can control how you respond to it.
Just because you may do something that makes you feel lonely and isolated doesn’t at all diminish the act of doing it and what you learn or how you grow as a person as a result.
Choosing the path less traveled is about finding one’s own way and using what one learns along the journey for the betterment of one’s self (and others).
It is very difficult to not grow while being out of one’s comfort zone. And conversely, very difficult to grow while in one.
And you may just find that you have what you need *within you* to overcome feelings of loneliness and isolation. You may just find you are a lot stronger and more resilient than you believed. You may just discover you don’t need to rely on others to give you an identity.
There is a battle being waged — not just in the Middle East — but right here, right now.
It’s the zombie virus — it’s real — and it’s an epidemic. The “living dead” are here — but they are not the walking corpses we’ve come to expect from the movies. It’s scarier than that…
Because the infected look like everyone else — they blend in & conform. In fact, many go to great lengths to buy all the “proper” products & do all the “right” things — because they live in fear of expressing their individuality.
The zombie virus has caused these living dead to become the end product of what they’ve been told & sold and what they’ve bought & been taught — it causes them to believe in the world they’ve been fed without question.
And that would be fine — as everyone should live their lives as they truly desire — except that many carry the virus without ever realizing they’ve been infected. And as a result, they’ve become slaves to the system and an often negative way of thinking. The infected live with fear & indecision — afraid to make bold decisions or to express their individuality. Afraid to venture beyond their comfort zone.
And as a result, carriers of the virus often settle for much less than the amazing things they are capable of achieving. I know — because…
I was infected, but I’ve learned to resist the virus — and you can, too.
Without even realizing I was a carrier of the zombie virus, I started bowing to societal pressures to keep my head down and to not question authority and to ignore common sense. I started to equate my own and others’ job titles as true indicators of “importance”, “success”, or value. I started to believe that what I owned, what I wore, or what I drove was a real reflection of who I was as a person.
I almost let the infection overtake my desire to live a life less ordinary. I started thinking, “It’s too late to live the life I want — if only…” — and as a result, I almost settled.
I began to give more weight to what people thought instead of what was actually true. I started to believe that I was the labels that people gave me — good and bad. I began to think that I needed approval to do what I truly wanted.
I started showing acute signs of the virus & didn’t even know it. And much to my surprise, I contracted it at an early age.
My entire life, I’d gained esteem by trying to impress others — I considered others’ praise to be an estimation of my own self-worth and I sought it out without understanding that the only source of true self-worth & confidence doesn’t come by counting on others to give it to you — it comes from within.
I started to believe that in order to be “happy” I had to settle — because the world is full carriers of the virus who do.
Awareness is the first step in fighting the zombie virus.
Symptoms of the zombie virus (details) are highly contagious. As such, the infected are everywhere — telling you what you can’t do, convincing you to conform, and suggesting that any alternatives other than the most popular are “impossible” or “unrealistic”.
“That’s what we wanted to get across in that moment, particularly when Shaun goes to the shop when he’s all hungover. He doesn’t notice any of the zombies around him just because he never had before, so why should he at that point?” — Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead)
The infected are cynical & pessimistic. They say things like “it doesn’t get any better than this” and “why even bother?” — they may even go so far as to seek to crush your ambitions, stifle your creativity, derail your dreams. They point out the problems in every plan — they say it can’t be done instead of focusing on ways that it can.
It is almost certain that it will be a carrier of the virus that is first to put you down when you attempt to be “great”. Carriers confuse egotism with self-esteem or integrity. In the most ironic of ways, the infected will wear their “Just do it.” logos — while at the same time they tear you down for trying.
The infected see walls & obstacles instead of portals of opportunity — and in turn, they become obstacles instead of gateways along other’s paths. They spread their “facts” and their “that’s just the way it is” mentality without ever questioning their own reality.
Carriers of the virus are the first to accept the status quo and it is their belief that you should, too — else you’ll be branded as “different” or a “maverick” — as if being labeled as different is the worst thing in the world. As if thinking you are capable of something bigger & better than average in your life is a bad thing.
As if you’re supposed live your one & only precious life based on what others think or what they expect of you. As if standing up and being counted as a free thinking individual is not something that should be celebrated & encouraged.
It is not uncommon for victims of the virus to live their lives as psychological slaves — dependent on others’ approval & recognition — it is a life that is measured by comparing themselves to the crowd. They live in fear of being judged as anything other than what is expected of them. They’ve come to believe that others are responsible for their life circumstances and they are quick to say, “but my situation is different” and “but I’ve really got it rough”.
In the mind of the infected, everyone else’s life is inexplicably easier by comparison and full of “lucky breaks” and “good fortune” that are absent in their world.
The zombie virus is a maker of mediocrity — it makes you forget that you were born to be great. It convinces you that the “greatness” of Michaelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, or Albert Einstein are unattainable exceptions to the human race instead of what they truly were, “ordinary individuals” doing extraordinary things. These people were born, grew up, and pursued their budding interest as amateurs —just like everyone else. But they persisted in their drive to refine their skills and hone their unique talents — and that, they did.
No, you are not Michaelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, or Albert Einstein — but their unique potential was theirs — not yours. You have your own — and the only person’s unique and incredible potential you should try to live up to is yours.
Being infected makes you forget that you — yes, YOU — too, have amazing potential just waiting to be tapped into. To say that you are an incredibly unique individual is an understatement. In the whole expanse of time, there will only ever be one person exactly like you!
No matter where you are in life, you have potential that is going untapped — you are capable of achieving far more than you probably believe.
You were meant to be — and I’m appropriating this word — a “pirate”.
Like zombies, these “pirates” are also not what you would entirely expect from the movies — nor am I referring to “illegal downloaders”, either.
No. The real pirates of the world are maximizers of potential — free thinkers, capable of making bold & brave decisions and avoiding value judgements. They are capable of seizing each day sailing across an ocean of opportunities pursuing their dreams with passion.
Pirates are captains of their ship! — They take responsibility for their lives and live with purpose. Rather than float where the current takes them, they steer their vessels to where their dreams & desires lead.
When the world tells them that the Earth is flat, but offers no real proof to back it up, they set off in their ships to see for themselves. And when their fear tells them they cannot do something, they look that fear in the face and say, “Watch me!”
“People [Pirates] who soar are those who refuse to sit back, sigh and wish things would change. They neither complain of their lot nor passively dream of some distant ship coming in [Again — Pirates are captains of their own vessel]. Rather, they visualize in their minds that they are not quitters; they will not allow life’s circumstances to [the infection] push them down and hold them under.” — Unknown
Pirates are explorers & adventurers — undeterred by stormy seas because they know — “Smooth seas do not make skilled sailors.” — African Proverb. They know that “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” — William Shedd
They know that zombies resolve to do what’s quick & easy, but there are no shortcuts to success — so they resolve to be disciplined and do what is hard & necessary because it works.
Nor are they afraid to sail into the unknown, because they understand — “One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore.” — Andre Gide
I call them zombies and pirates — you might call them something else — but regardless of how they are labeled, these types of people are real.
In my world, Mark Twain was a pirate — “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Sir Cecil Beaton was a pirate — “Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play—it—safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary [zombies].“
Ralph Waldo Emerson was a pirate — “To be yourself [a pirate] in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else [of zombies] is the greatest accomplishment.”
“Here’s to the crazy ones [pirates]. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round heads in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify them, or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race [zombies] forward. And some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people [pirates] who are crazy enough to think they can change the world [overcome the zombie virus] are the ones who do.”
This is a call to arms!
We must resist the virus and find ways to overcome it — lest it overtake us and make us zombie slaves in a world of mediocrity!