The taste of defeat in the real world is your fuel. The truth is, most people who grow up in the “civilised world” don’t know what it means to be down and out. Because they don’t get to experience pain. They’re coddled and protected by parents, then by money, then by friends and so on. Why do I say this?
Growing up in a civilised world, where at least one of your parents worked, where you go to school as an obligation, where your parents have cars, and your grand parents and parents have a house that is payed off. Growing up in a society where you have minimum wage dole systems, health care to support your ill health, and where you have the possibility of getting a grant to study in a University. All of this is sort of a cocoon. We’re quick to point at how shameful it is, or step away from the people who are on minimum wage dole systems as if they were lepers who could make us poor overnight. As a society there is a communal shame to be poor or dependent on the government in order to ‘survive‘. We never get to experience the sheer dread of not knowing when the next meal will be, not knowing if we’ll die because the cold night ahead, not knowing if we’ll be homeless, not knowing the next time we’ll be “lovable” (because of the power money yields over individuals capacity to see value in each other), not knowing truly if we’ll ever be valued again…
But what if we got to experience the world our grand parents our great grand parents had to experience or even the medieval times before any sort of social support could even be thought of. What would the sheer contrast show us?
I’ve been thinking, and too many of our generation are clueless as to what it is to really suffer, or what it means to be poor, or what it means to be down and out. Most of us, at least in the civilized world, live in a bubble of illusion that we can’t fail, that we can’t experience a worse form of existence if we fuck up.
Too many spoilt kids in this generation feel as if they have no clue what it is they want to do, have no sense of motivation, and on top of that feel entitled to everything. They talk about lack of purpose, lack of vision and go about life as if nothing bad could ever happen. In a way, it’s true, they’re protected by their parents. But this protection has a dark side; “If you never experience how harsh the world can be, because mommy and daddy are always there to support you and bail you out of your stupidities, you don’t learn to keep a cool head and focus on the basics.
In high-school, I too had this lack of purpose, lack of drive, and didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I saw all my friends and peers around me moving on to better brighter things and I didn’t know what I wanted. I knew I couldn’t rely on my academia and felt I wasn’t able to rely on what I had learned up until then. And for good reason too, I somehow floated from primary school to university of Law without studying too much and then felt a sort of imposter syndrome. My life felt like a house of cards. I felt like an imposter everywhere I went and needed a sort of mask to hide the fact that I was deeply insecure. The jobs I landed, somehow reflected my privilege and advantage I had because I was born into a society, being white, having health, being somewhat good looking, and of course the invisible advantages to have studied, and hobnobbed with friends of higher socio-economic value than my intimate social circle. I didn’t feel like I deserved any of it. I was living a lie, and I wasn’t confident that I was the one from whom everything happening for me originated. A deep casm seemed to live between where I physically was, and what I was able to produce from my own thinking capacity. For some reason, the world around me saw me as somewhat successful, as if I was like them, as if I deserved and had worked my ass off to be there. And yet, I couldn’t really take credit for where I was. I’d passed my diplomas by the skin of my teeth, and somehow got into positions through friends, or through the gift of the gab, which is a fulfilling thing. But in no way, could I be considered deserving. Why?
Because I was living on the first story of a house of cards, of appearances, of benefits and privileges, all of which was of fragile architecture and construct. None of it was my making.
Or if I did manage gettinng into situations, I was in them because of 1) how I looked, 2) where I had been, 3) who I knew, 4) what I seemed to have achieved, 5) sheer influence. The main problem with this, and I will say this as many times as you need, is that it creates a Shell of appearances that we can benefit from, up until the moment we realise that we don’t actually have any speciality, any skills we can rely on. This is a major problem as it clearly puts us in positions where we ourselves feel like an imposter (because we didn’t work to get where we were), everything feels too easy (there’s no challenge, we don’t have to work for anything and so don’t value what we get as a result), we can’t produce anything but talk (which leaves us with hot air and little else), but also has an effect on those around us if we cannot live up to the standard they see in us, or if we don’t live up to the image that we portray.
When the shit hits the fan, and it will at some point in your life if you’re living through The Shell without personal development, you will reach a crossroads at which you will have to choose. To become a fake person, who manipulates, uses, and ponces off others, or to destroy the falsity about you, to discard what is not you, what is illusion and cut the crap, essentially deconstructing what isn’t what you are and what isn’t a product of you.
If you’re like me, you choose the latter.
I decided to live a contrast to my actual life, that was so deeply painful, disturbing, contrasting and contradictory that I couldn’t help but reject what I wasn’t. Oftentimes, we believe that we can change because we want to. We only change when we don’t have a choice but to change. And we change because what we are is so intolerable to be that we have no choice in the matter but to become something else. In my perspective, I needed to create a deep amount of pain to associate to what I was in order to become something else later on.
When I had my crossroads moment, I felt I had to pick the hard path, the sinuous path of torture and difficulty. I’d have to go through some pain. Obviously, I’d have to crack open my ego, face illusions, undo what wasn’t me, and face my inadequacies over and over. At first, I harshly rejected reality. It took me a while to accept that I had built nothing but illusion and I needed hard proof to share with the world. I needed to be able to produce something of value that emanated from me.
After my deconstruct, which took me through multiple difficult and embarrassing situations, I realised something. I was going to have to go back to square one and start over from scratch. This is a painful realisation to have, but also a freeing one, one devoid of lies, one devoid of illusions and appearances to upkeep. As if putting down a mountain, we let go of the weight we carry around and embrace the possibility of building a life on firm foundations. It’s a second chance, to acknowledge that we only have one life. So we must give everything we have right now to build what we’re striving for.
Starting at my beginnings again, with the added help of my loving mother, I was able to go through metamorphosis and focus on a new path to take. One that would include learning to look at my inadequacies in academia and wonder where I could better fortify my basics again. I decided to go back to the basics in math, as well as learn an entirely new skillset and universe. I decided to become someone else, or another version of myself, more real, based on real hard work, on repetition, on good habits and vision. And I built my life up from nothing.
We don’t choose to change, we can only choose to let go of what we no longer are and when we let go, we embrace the possibility to become something entirely new. The idea of choice and control over our circumstances is but illusion in the face of a new world manifesting around us in relation to our thoughts and beliefs. The truth is, we let go of what is no longer us, and we are attracted like a moth to flame to a new subject matter to express what we are. Imbibed in a new universe, we develop in a whole new way and become, in the process, a better version of who we are by shedding the onion skins we no longer need.
Each time we strive, we’re seeking that new subject matter that will help us crack the next layer, because despite the impression that it is all desire and we’re going towards something that will help us achieve a desire or a way of being or whatever, we’re actually striving for something we believe will help us to get to the heart of the matter: us, and what makes us tick so well that we can’t help but lead others by example, and help them as a result of our existence.
Without going through the torture of breaking down the house of cards, without deconstructing our illusions, without being homeless, jobless, friendless, loveless, moneyless,… without going through those experiences, it’s near impossible for us to experience a genuine knowledge of what it means to be fulfilled in every single one of those areas.
When it comes to defeat, it’s only when we find ourselves in front of a wall that we discover our ingenuity, the depth of creative insights, the extent of our ability to surpass any obstacles in our wake. When we fail over and over, we get to experience a form of immunity and develop a confidence in ourselves, that despite anything that is happening, we’re insensitive to the fact we failed. It allows us to desensitise to what no longer matters, so we can extract the pure essence of learning out of those situations, and in due course use it to become the better version of ourselves.
After writing this article, I can state without a shed of a doubt that had I not experienced true poverty, loss, fear, actual danger, rejection and being confronted and brought back to my actual reality, I would not have the deep motivation that I currently have to never ever go through that type of experience ever again. [THIS RIGHT HERE IS THE REAL DEAL STUFF THAT DRIVES US: the emotional reference I have within my heart and nervous system as a result of experiencing utmost failure ] And thanks to this emotional reference I have within, I am deeply driven to take action towards the future I desire, in contrast to the reality I don’t want to ever experience again. This is my point of leverage over everyone else in our civilised society. I have an obsessive nature, and pain is the flame that keeps it going, not because I desire pain, but because the pain reminds me of what I no longer want.
The expression HELL-bent comes to mind. We are bent – obsessively I’ll add- by the painful flames of hellish existence towards the construction of a personal paradise of our own making.
The hard part of my life is the real advantage I have over those I meet. It’s the stuff that gets me up, that makes me work hard, that drives me on well into the night when others are giving up. The hard part of my life is what gives me the patience and the optimism to keep on going because anything else in contrast to what I have been through is easy and worth doing. Because the hard things in our life give us a sense of nuance, we get to experience more harmonious and balanced lives. It’s because of a harsh past that we create a beautiful future…
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