Why do so many people take so much time to worry about the future, yet spend a minimal amount of time to take a breath, look back and see how far they’ve come? Asking for a friend…Continue reading Celebrate your Wins
This is an article I wrote for the first edition of the Polyca Magazine, edited by a friend of mine, almost exactly a year ago. This is one of the first times that I’ve reread something and I laughed when I did, because obviously, in March 2020, I misinterpreted the situation entirely and I promise to refrain from making predictions from now on, you’ll see what I mean. Anyway, enjoy reading.
An act of futility? A drop in the ocean? Our attitude in the post-corona world will supersede the importance of the present containment measures in the future of our species. It’s time we became conscious.
Luxembourg, March 19th 2020. Enter: State of Emergency. Enter: National Lockdown
42 days later, we’re still waiting for good news, for numbers to drop, for a step back to normal. And we will go back to normal, no doubt about it. Some researchers claim it will affect life until 2022 at least. But I’ll take every bet that 12 months from now, Corona will again be associated with beer, not a pandemic.
Don’t get me wrong, people won’t forget about it, they won’t forget that they were quarantined for a few weeks – of course not. People never forget when they’re treated unfairly. They’ll probably even remember the number of days they spent in their houses without seeing friends and family and will gladly tell the story about how they met online to have drinks with friends before 4:00 PM (Can you imagine that! How silly!)
And they’ll remember cursing this invisible monstrosity that had pressed pause on their lives during one of the sunniest Aprils Luxembourg had ever seen. Thank you very much, climate change. We know you’re there. You don’t have to rub it in our faces when we’re not even allowed to enjoy destroying our planet.
They’ll remember the man who, presumably, ate a bat and brought about this virus. And where they had been when they heard the news of the lockdown. Such a sudden and unforeseeable measure.
Except it wasn’t. And that’s the point – it was not sudden at all. And if you think it was, you’re at least as responsible for the magnitude of the lockdown as the man who ate a bat. The government of Wuhan imposed a lockdown on January 23rd of this year – it took Europe almost two months to recognise that this virus does not care about borders.
We are now in a process of deconfinement, taking baby steps back to normal life, and yes, that is due to ours reacting accordingly. The problem was analysed and measures were taken. This, however, does not mean that we acted comme il faut.
Had we not turned our back to problem that was visible in other countries, had we not refused to ponder the possibility of being influenced by a virus transmitted through respiratory droplets (as we already knew weeks before the first case was reported in Luxembourg), maybe the consequences would have been milder. Who knows. But that was far, far away, therefore it couldn’t reach us, therefore not our problem. That is the mindset that brought us here. Not an unprecedented attitude either: When did we start caring about ISIS? When it started to affect Europe, no sooner. Same difference.
Maybe, just maybe, that is something we need to think about. As a species, that is. The future will hold many more problems, some of which are already affecting life on Earth for other species. Not so much for humans; the malefactor walks free for now. Ever heard of the Pinta Island Tortoise? The first species to go extinct because of the results of climate change in 1989. Many more would follow. What about the Australian bushfire season earlier this year, which destroyed an area of 186.000 square kilometers, burning roughly 1/5 of the continent’s forested area and killing an estimate of a billion animals? You don’t think that we might have contributed to its severity? Issues like these won’t be controlled by staying home, and they’ll not restrict themselves to the ‘vulnerable groups’.
Might that be the downfall of mankind? Will we kill ourselves by restricting our thoughts to the imminent future? By ignoring problems until they can’t be ignored any longer. By looking the other way, by closing doors and windows until the problem forces away in, having had time to become strong enough to become undefeatable. By being complacent and by hoping that the problems disappear if we turn a blind eye for long enough.
Or else, will we regard the circumstances as what they are? A warning to reconsider how we’re treating our home. A warning to remind ourselves how vulnerable and dependent we are. It might just have been the last one.
Disclaimer: I disagree with what I said about being as responsible as the guy who ate a bat if you think that the arrival of the virus and the measures taken to limit it were ‘sudden and unforeseeable’. I now believe that is the government’s fault, pandemics are not exactly unprecedented and people paid to serve their country ought to deal with that accordingly: act rather than react.
How often have you thought about how great it would be to make a living with something you enjoy doing? ‘Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’ is a great maxim to live by, and I agree with it – but only to an extent. It’s certainly so much easier to get up in the morning, knowing that you won’t have to spend the day hating your job for 8 hours, then go home to get rest just to do the same thing the following day. But I’ve been thinking about how people have started to feel pressured into ‘making it’ with the things they enjoy. I certainly have.
To be independent, to be your own boss, to materialise your own ideas and make them work in a way that allows you to live comfortably, I bet these are dreams many of you have had in the past, as have I. The problem with that is that I’ve now arrived at a point where I have to restrain myself from trying to make a business out of everything I enjoy. Of course, for me, it would be awesome if someone paid me to write. It’d be great to see someone willing to pay me for something I like doing. There seems to be no downside to being paid for enjoying a hobby. Except, there is.
The problem with being paid is that people expect something in return for their money (who would have thought?) And what does that do to people? It stresses them out. Because now suddenly they have all this responsibility and pressure to perform. Expectations to be met, deadlines to respect and other people’s goals to reach. It’s just not your own anymore. You’ve probably felt that way in school/university/work before, when you had to read a book or even just watch a movie. Despite the fact that you would have enjoyed reading or watching the movie, (or at least not hated it) if you didn’t have to do it for school, university or work, now suddenly the task has become a burden. Why? Because you’re no longer the one who chooses to do, or not do it. You’re forced to and that makes it infinitely less appealing and, at the same time, lowers the probability for you to do a decent job at it. It prevents real enjoyment because apparently the connection between pleasure and the feeling of control is much more profound than we think. As a result, you lose interest in it, and, simultaneously you lose your hobby.
Your hobby is deprived of the very essence that had drawn you to it in the first place. Because what is a hobby at its core? It’s something you enjoy doing, something you enjoy spending time on without expecting anything in return expect for fun, satisfaction and, plain and simple, happiness.
But people aren’t happy when they are stressed. And people don’t like to do something when they feel they are forced too. I don’t exactly know why that is, probably something to do with self-determination and feeling in control, (please go ahead and hit me up if you know better). Stress takes the fun away and now suddenly your hobby is your job and you’re forced to do it rather than freely choosing to, which is why I don’t know if I can agree with the aforementioned quote.
Because what does it imply? It implies that you should find something you enjoy and then start making money with it. I’m not sure I want to pay the price for that.
Of course, many many people have to wake up everyday to earn money with a job they hate, so financing yourself with your hobby is a luxury that one should not foolishly discard, it’s also not something I suggest. What I want to say is to ensure that you still have space for yourself, a zone of control that enables you do the things you enjoy without having to stress about pleasing a client. Consciously take the time to treat your hobby as just that, a hobby. A way of spending time according to your preferences. An escape from daily stress and expectations. An avenue towards happiness.
(I repeat, I WILL write for money if offered, don’t get me wrong. Don’t hesitate to slide into my DMs 🙂 I just want to make sure I still have time to write for fun, too)
This title may be a little dramatic and exaggerated but I’m trying to make a point here, bear with me.
I like people with ideas. I enjoy listening to people talk about projects and future events that they want to launch and work on. I enjoy the enthusiasm people spread when they are talking about how they will make this world a little better, how they’re motivated by having an impact on this world. And I don’t think we can have too many of these people. I don’t think there can be too much creativity, too much initiative or too much individuality. We need that kind of people and the world needs them even more.
But if your words remain without action, they lose their worth. Promises that aren’t kept are shells without content and how much are shells worth if they have no content to protect? I know how easy it is to lose track of time, to lose track of promises you made to yourself and to others. Life has a way of accelerating time whenever you need it to stop and stop when you’d rather want it to hurry.
Promises that aren’t kept are shells without content and how much are shells worth if they have no content to protect?
Which is why you need to do it now. ‘It’ can be anything. It is that one thing that has been on your mind forever, running riot because it hasn’t been given the attention it deserves. The thing you said you’d do on the weekend but then the weekend came and you felt tired from an exhausting week, and so you didn’t do it. The thing you promised yourself you’d start doing on the 1st of January but then that day came and it turned out to be a day where you absolutely needed to stay in bed half the day and a friend wanted to meet up for coffee later, and so you didn’t do it. Maybe it’s the thing you actually took a day off to do but then sat in front of your television and accidentally dosed off, and so you didn’t do it. And then you postponed it to the next day, week, month or even year.
Your thing then ends up at the back of your subconscious mind, which rarely reminds you of it and when it does, it’s at 3 in the morning when you can’t sleep. Why can’t you get sleep? You can’t sleep because your subconscious mind is annoyed at your inability to stick to your promises and because you’ve shirked your responsibility. You’ve passed that responsibility on to your subconscious mind, a data-bank that cannot ever really forget something, so it has to store everything you come up but never engage with. How annoying that must be. And so you’ve made your subconscious mind bitter, and you expect it to let you sleep at night? That’s not how it works and that’s not what your mind deserves. It’s not what you deserve.
You’ve passed that responsibility on to your subconscious mind, a data-bank that cannot ever really forget something, so it has to store everything you come up but never engage with.
Or else, you made the effort to write your thing on some to-do list. Congrats! One less dust collector in your mind. But now that list is lying under a bunch of more important and impending files on your desk, not collecting any dust because it never sees daylight. Equally pointless.
The point I want to make is that you have to assume responsibility. You can talk all you want about what you’ll do in the future but if you’re all talk and no action, no one will keep listening to you for very long and more importantly, you’ll never get anything done. And don’t get me wrong: I know that many projects cannot just be kickstarted from nothing, many projects need to be prepared and planned ahead and, arguably, that’s even the most important thing. But at some point, you’ll have to be honest with yourself and decide if you’re actually preparing your thing or if you’re using preparation as an alibi. Is what you say you want to do something you really want to do or is it something you use to boast your confidence, a sort of decoration you wear to make yourself feel better and impress others? I’ve found that it’s really painful to truthfully answer that question, and yet it is crucial.
if you’re all talk and no action, no one will keep listening to you for very long and more importantly, you’ll never get anything done.
Why is it so important to be honest with yourself?
Because the worst thing you can do to yourself is give yourself up. There can’t be a worse breach of trust than the one between you and yourself. If you keep postponing your thing on a daily, weekly or yearly basis, in some way you keep giving yourself up and even if you manage to keep it out of your consciousness for some time, it never really leaves you.
The goal here is not to accomplish every single project that crosses your mind. You can’t possibly do everything. The goal is to hold yourself accountable, to be honest with yourself and discard the ideas that, deep down, you know you won’t do. And there is no issue with that at all. There is nothing to be ashamed of in deciding that you want to spend your time with something else. It is even necessary. You need to make space in your head for other ideas and for a better relationship with yourself. Once you’ve done that, that is when the real work begins. When you have a clear view of your thing, because you’ve been honest with yourself and discarded all the projects you know you won’t engage with, you’ll be able to focus on your thing. Once you’re focused, there’s no going back. Make use of the spirit and energy of new beginnings, know that it’ll wear off if you don’t exploit it, and start.
you need to make space in your head for other ideas and for a better relationship with yourself.
No postponing. No excuses. No weekend off. No meeting up with a friend. No accidental naps. When life comes in the way, fight back. Don’t let your thing get dusty. Do it today or you won’t ever.
We should spend more time on thinking how we spend our time. I’ve luckily had the opportunity to do so in the last months. A post about thinking methods and aching backs.
I really do not have to worry about many things except for my thesis right now (suspicious, how I’ve started to engage with my blog at the same time that I’m obliged to write something else). That’s why I’ve had the time to do some research on how to be more productive since I’ve always felt that I waste much more time than necessary. It’s really not the first time that I’ve read up on how to be more efficient, but usually when I do that it’s the night before an exam and my search bar ends up looking something like ‘study 8 hours in 4 hours’ or ‘how much coffee to drink before exam after studying all night’. As you may imagine or have experienced yourself, the search results are a loss of time more than anything else.
Now that I’m free from exam pressure, I’ve rediscovered this Youtuber called Ali Abdaal who’s a doctor and blogger and business owner who seemingly has more hours per day than I do (with 1.46 million subscribers on YouTube, if you’ve ever searched for videos on productivity, you’ll probably know him). If you’re like me, and usually only crave to be productive merely hours before an exam, you’ve seen that his videos are longer than 30 seconds, which is about the amount of time that one can afford to lose during study nights, and therefore haven’t really give him a chance. But I think you should. Here’s why:
Ali Abdaal reads and assesses books and studies about how to work and live more effectively, how to lose less time with the things you may not enjoy as much so that you can spend that gained time on whatever you do enjoy. And isn’t that something people strive for? The great thing about his channel is the fact that while his titles are certainly click-baity (E.g.: ‘How Writing Online made me a Millionaire’), raising people’s hope and leading to lots of viewers, the videos are actually helpful. (Disclaimer: I watched this video last week and I am not a millionaire yet, so you may want to lower your hopes)
He talks about all these methods and principles that you should follow if you want to be more efficient with whatever you’re doing, all of which are great advice, but I think the most important aspect he mentions is the relevance of enjoying the tasks at hand. Whenever you do something, it should be enjoyable at least to some extent.
Of course, not everything you do is enjoyable in itself. In fact, most things probably aren’t. Even if you’re studying exactly what you always wanted to study, in the city you love most. Even if you have the job you used to dream about as a child. Even if you’re in a relationship with your all-time favourite person. Some things just aren’t fun. Writing a 3000-word essay for that one class you know won’t have any influence on your future isn’t pleasant. Preparing a project for your boss that he will present as his own is frustrating. Spending your only day off from work setting up your partner’s grandparents Wifi will not be something you look forward to first thing in the morning.
But while these activities are not inherently fun, you make them worse by hating them before doing them. You’ll probably spend more time worrying about or loathing these projects than it takes to actually complete them. Think about how many times you accomplished an annoying task just to realise that it wasn’t that bad, or hard or exhausting. (I can think of literally only one event that was even worse than I had expected – French oral examination as a senior – against hundreds of times where I seriously overestimated the agony I’d undergo.) Very often you’ll even have found that you had at least a little fun doing it.
Embracing this realisation, the fact that I probably won’t hate every second of that thing I have to do has had a serious influence the way I look at tasks. What I think is crucial to fathom is the fact that while you do not always get to choose what you do and while some projects really are annoying, the way you look at them makes all the difference. So maybe next time you have a project coming up that isn’t necessarily your favourite pastime, ask yourself if there’s any way for you to make it less tiresome. Find the one little thing that isn’t annoying about the task, and actively choose to focus on that. If that does not work and you really cannot find anything positive, it helps to take a step back to look at the bigger picture. Failing the class because you decide to write the 3000 word essay on the day of the deadline will probably lower your overall grade and your chances to get that job you want. Sending your boss a presentation with 19 spelling mistakes on 3,5 powerpoint slides will probably affect your position in the firm in a negative way. Deciding to stay in bed instead of setting up your grandparents in law’s wifi will certainly affect your partner’s mood, which might lead to you sleeping on the couch.
Some things you just can’t dodge, so you may as well make the time you have to spend on it more pleasurable, even if it’s just a tiny bit. Things aren’t usually that bad. Most of the time it’s just your mind playing tricks on you because it’s lazy. Tasks usually offer at least a tiny bit of fun, if you so choose to seek it. Concentrate on that, and you’ll get things done much quicker. And, in the exceptional case of a project that does not present any positive prospect, you can always motivate yourself by thinking about your aching back after sleeping on the couch.
Invent yourself, CK
“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done” – Bruce Lee
We’re about to enter our second year of this global pandemic and obviously I’m considering this and the lack of input I had in the last months as I’m thinking about why I haven’t sat down to write. But I don’t think that that is the primary reason for this state of non-writing or of scribbling down notes in some obscure note on my phone that I never look at again.
I think the reason I haven’t been posting for Invent yourself is that, quite simply, my mind has tricked me into thinking that writing de facto means trying to explain something to someone, trying to impose my way of thinking on someone else. Since I neither feel like I’m in a position to impose anything on anyone, nor think that anyone should impose their perspectives regardless of their experience and age, I stopped. I didn’t want to be part of that group of people who think that their thoughts and ideas are natively superior to those of others for no justifiable reason (note that I do not think that delusion, arrogance, suppressed insecurity and all of these vices that so many people have to live with justify that feeling of superiority)
Another reason is that I have taken a liking to creating videos for Slam It Out (which if you haven’t seen them, you should check out on Instagram @slamitout) because these projects essentially come into existence through dialogues with Sam and therefore do not feel so much like I’m trying to impose myself. It also gives me some sense of security because obviously, if your team consists of 1 person (me), which has been the case for Invent yourself, you run the risk of propagating ideas that should not be propagated because they are 1) lacking value 2) plain stupid and/or wrong or 3) making you seem like you’re standing in for ideals or certain perspectives that do not actually represent your mindset. Having at least one other person working with you and sharing their distinct perspective on a certain project significantly reduces the risk of posting nonsense.
You might ask yourself why I think it’s a good idea to write a blog about why I stopped blogging, which is fair enough. (If you did not ask yourself this, don’t worry, no one’s gonna know) One reason is that I’m not self-confident enough to do Youtube videos yet and also I’m supposed to be working on my Bachelor Thesis (I’ll keep you posted) (Or maybe I won’t- I probably will if I graduate) and not having to prove everything I’m writing with some source by some scholar is very refreshing. But the main reason is that, as I’ve said before, my mind has been tricking me and it’s only now that I’ve become aware of that fact.
When I started Invent yourself – which was almost 5 years ago (alarming realisation considering that a few days ago, before I checked the date of creation, I thought it had been like 3 maximum) – the main motivation was not to prove to people how intelligent I am or to convince anyone to start thinking like me. A little part of me certainly did want to impress (because why else would I have felt the need to pay WordPress money to make my site look good and have my own domain name? I could’ve just written for myself and spend that money on essential material things like new white sneakers that look exactly like the 4 pairs of white sneakers I already own…) But I think the non-ego driven part of me initially just wanted to share my perspective and see where it goes and hopefully gain some knowledge about myself and the world by forcing me to do at least some research about the topics that interest me. Also, I was, and still am a strong believer in using writing as a structuring mechanism. Writing things down, in any way or fashion, helps me to organise thoughts and ‘calms my nerves’ just because I know it’s written down somewhere so I won’t forget about it and I will be able to deal with it at some point. I must have forgotten about this somewhere along the way, which is a shame, but no fiasco, since as it seems, it has found its way back to me. (as good things tend to do)
Now, what’s the new plan for this dusty blog?
I will try not to use it to talk about topics and themes in a way that makes it seem like I know more than others (because as we’ve established, that is not the case). I don’t really know if I did that in the past. I feel like I did but I hate re-reading stuff I’ve written, so I don’t and you’ll have to be the judge of that. Maybe this post will again be last one for many months, I certainly won’t tell you that I’ll be writing more in the future and all of that hypothetic nonsense (I’ve certainly learned from that mistake), but thank you for following me via your e-mail address anyway so the ego-part of my brain can get its boost.
Invent yourself, CK
(Is this post me re-inventing this blog? be that as it may.)
This post won’t further increase any panic you might be experiencing, promise.
No doubt, 2020 so far has not exactly been what we had hoped for. This virus is another setback. It’s weird how life can change in such a short period of time, how suddenly you no longer feel in control. Many people are suffering and many are fighting- it’s easy to lose sight of anything positive in these times. But not all is bad, not all is lost.
Many of us have been looking forward to a break. Because life can be exhausting. It’s demanding. Sometimes it’s annoying. For many, the everyday life has become so stressful that all they can do is look forward to quitting time, to the weekend, to the holidays. And it can feel like you don’t have time to breathe, as though your air supply was limited.
This is a situation in which our lives are restrained. We’re forced to cut back in some aspects. But in the right light, this is also a chance. This is your chance to take a breath. Take one, take another. Take as many as you need. Then take some more. You don’t know when you’ll have the chance to take in as much air again. It is also a chance to find back to something many have given up due to everyday business. A chance to resume old hobbies you gave up because time was lacking. To begin new hobbies you’ve been thinking about forever. To read books you’ve been piling up. To watch movies and series that have been on your list forever. To learn how to cook. To reestablish relationships with people you lost contact with, but never stopped loving (of course, via messaging platforms for now). To realize that being part of a community means more than benefitting from rights. A chance to find back to yourself. Take it.
BUT if you’re going to spend the next two weeks(+) scrolling down social media, just lying in bed or on your couch, panic will kick in at some point. Of course media is going to fuel this topic as much as they can. Media wants panic. Because panic means reactions. Reactions mean interaction. Interaction means clicks and clicks mean money. Even in times of global concerns and insecurity, money owns people, that’s reality. It’s your job to avoid being pulled in.
If you’re like me, this is the first time in your life where you don’t exert control about what to do with your time. It’s challenging but I think there’s a lot to learn from this situation. The first lesson I learnt? There are many more unteachable and obstinate people than expected. The second thing is that you’re allowed to change your opinion. A week ago I was laughing about this virus- now I don’t. Many people have said it before: don’t panic, but don’t underestimate the situation. We all are part of this society. As a member of this community you have rights, which you are free to exert. You do however have obligations as well. If you think that this problem does not concern you, because you’re young and probably won’t be affected by this virus, you’re no better than all the boomers who do not care about climate change and who you have been (rightly) bashing in the last months and years. Just because it does not directly have an impact on your life, does not mean you get to ignore the problem. This is a time in which all of us have to assume responsibility.
Even if you do not care so much about the risk groups- think about all the people who in these times are the pillars on whom life as we know it depends. Doctors, nurses, paramedics, scientists etc. etc. They need our help and it’s not too much to ask.
Let’s build a world in which we can count on one another. This is not an easy situation for many of us. Still, I sincerely hope you see the silver lining in all of this.
Invent yourself (now more than ever!!!)
Die Corona Lehre
Ärzte, Betten überall
Forscher forschen, Gelder fliessen-
Politik mit Überschall.
Also hat sie klargestellt:
Wenn sie will, dann kann die Welt.
Also will sie nicht beenden
Das Krepieren in den Kriegen,
Das Verrecken vor den Stränden
Und dass Kinder schreiend liegen
In den Zelten, zitternd, nass.
Also will sie. Alles das.
We don’t need anything that we don’t know. A person who’s never heard about money will not seek it. A child that has never seen a phone, won’t ask for one. We only need things- and people- we have experienced. In that same way, we can’t be tempted by anything we haven’t had.
No one likes to be reminded of how much time they spend on their phones. We all know it’s bad and we all know it’s a waste of time and we know we’re not missing anything if we don’t use it for a few hours, or let me dare say, days. But we’re tempted to look at it, because it’s accessible. It’s right there in our pocket or bag, ready to be used. But I’m not writing another post about how much time is wasted on phones. They are part of our lives. End of story.
I’m trying to figure out how to use this knowledge to learn how to resist temptations in general. I can say for myself that I’m really good at making resolutions. Be it on New Years Eve or any other day, I tend to set high challenges that I really think I will be able to achieve. In that moment, I’m composed and strong-willed. Even when the goals I’m setting a really demanding, I feel a certain confidence and a responsibility towards myself to not disappoint myself.
Despite the strength of mind I feel when I set these milestones, I have yet to achieve most of them. And I’m pretty sure that is the case for many people. Because we let ourselves be tempted. Because on some days, the temptations are too strong and too accessible. Because the strength of our mind is neither consistent nor reliable. Obviously- you can train your mind. Just like you can train your body. But just like you can get sick physically even when you’re working out, eating healthily and dressing appropriately, a mind that is well treated can have weak moments too. I have yet to meet someone who’s on 100% mentally 365/365.
These moments, when the temptations become too strong, are the moments during which we have to support and help ourselves. We might not be able to keep up the strength of mind at all times, but we can avert risk. Say you’ve been trying to quit smoking. You wake up in the morning and you’re feeling really confident not to give in to temptation during the day. That’s when you’ll have to remind yourself that you might not be able to keep up these thoughts all day. Don’t pack your cigarettes or throw them away on the way to school, uni, job or whatever your destination might be. During the day, maybe don’t join cigarette breaks, even if you’re convinced you’ll be able to say no if someone offers you a cig. Because chances are you won’t.
We’re not as strong mentally as we think we are. We love to give in to temptations and we love to give ourselves little breaks to indulge in things that’ll ultimately hurt us. Don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking that your mental strength is dependable at all times. Don’t overestimate yourself. Take account of weak moments.
Invent yourself, CK
(I’ve been trying to figure out a way to adjust this strategy to be of use with tempting feelings. Say you’re in the process of trying to get over someone who was special to you. Say you’re thinking you’re not doing so bad. Say you’ve not seen them in a while and you assume you’ll finally be able to cope with seeing them. You expect yourself to resist the temptation of letting old feelings come up again. And then you do see them at some event. And the wall you’ve built in your head-despite all the efforts you’ve put into overcoming this person- is shattered in no time. You realize that the wall might have been fit to repress thoughts, but not feelings. And they flood your head and take with them every piece of progress you had so thoroughly fixed.
Feelings ultimately run the show and ignoring them will only lead to a more painful collapse. Not confronting yourself with a person, to be able to distance yourself mentally unfortunately does not seem to do the trick in the way it does with bad habits. Sorry about the blow…)
The reasons that keep me from writing, from creating anything that might or might not be of artistic worth are numerous, or so I keep telling myself. Keeping up with university work, Sports, Netflix, meeting friends to have 27 drinks too many, the thereof resulting hangovers, the endless and mindless scrolling through the same 3 apps a 100 times a day. All these things, I tell myself, are the reasons that delay my writing. But honestly, I know that they are not the true reasons, I know that I could easily find time to do what I really like to do. Here’s why I really keep myself from sitting in front of my desk, open WordPress and my notes on my phone (consisting of random small ideas and single words that no longer make any sense to me at all, but at the time of writing them down seemed to be brilliant ideas for new posts) and why I prefer to lie in bed to rewatch Friends over and over again.
I’m afraid to fail. Always have. I’ve always had the stupid idea in my head that failing at anything would put me in a dangerous place in terms of mental health. As in, I thought of myself as being unable to deal with failing. As in, I forbid myself to fail to preserve my strength. As in, me failing at anything would make a failure out of me. I grew up in an extremely fortunate environment: teachers that really cared about my grades and well-being, parents who would drop everything to help with anything school-related. I am thankful everyday and I know that the people around me tried to protect me from everything to spare me any trouble.
But every coin has two sides. While, up to now, I never had any major trouble in terms of my academic path, it prevented me from ever having to deal with failure. I never had to endure the pain of knowing that I would probably fail my year or even just a class and therefore never developed the consciousness of my own strength, of the possibility to get myself out of difficult situations. I know I have it in me, I know I’m much more resistent than I tend to think of myself and I know every single person on this planet has it in them. Some people, like me, just never have dared to look for it, because they’re afraid that they would be looking for something only to find out that it doesn’t exist.
That is why I refrain from starting new projects, because I know I will not immediately be good at it (crazy concept…) and why I refrain from starting to write. I’m aware of the possibility of failure at any time and I’m worried that I wouldn’t be able to deal with not succeeding in my endeavors, that it would hinder my development as a writer. A thought process, which from this new perspective I recently adopted, is non-sense. The only thing that can really keep me from progressing in my projects is if I do not engage with them at all. The only real obstacle any of us have to face is fear.
Life has a plan for everyone. Even when we think that we’re going in circles, that we’re going backwards or that we’ve have lost sight of the path we once took, it’s still there. What I’ve been trying to teach myself is that mistakes, wrong decisions and failures do not blur our vision of the path we’re walking. Every situation in which we accept the possibility of defeat, of failure, of hurting ourselves, is like a lens that improves our sight of the track that’s under our feet. With every risky decision that might come back at us, that might hunt us for a while, that keeps us awake at night, we start to see clearer until one day our perception of the path will be so crystal clear that we’ll wonder how we could ever doubt its existence.
Failure does not make us weak. We should always see it as a result of courage, of daring to take blind steps into the unknown. If we dare to fail, we set up success. audentes fortuna iuvat. Fortune favours the bold. Be bold enough to fail.
Invent yourself, CK
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default. -J.K. Rowling
‘Back on the ship, away with the junk’, ‘Like grasshoppers, a deadly plague’, ‘We’ve helped enough of them’, ‘Our country will soon consist of nothing but refugees’ ‘Why build a mosque for them? Will they build a church for us?’, ‘If they want to practice their religion, they should leave our country’
Yet again, people show their true face. Hard pill to swallow, considering that these comments all came from Luxembourgish people in one of the richest countries in the world. How deeply flawed human nature is. How easy it is to manipulate it. We live in a world in which people have allowed mainstream media to blind them, paired with devices that allow people to write faster than they can think. Reading through these comments made me realize two things in particular. 1. Maybe we shouldn’t have taught all old people how to use a smartphone, it would have spared us many stupid comments. 2. Young people maybe won’t be able to change their minds, but at least the majority of people under 30 seem to feel more empathetic towards any kind of stranger (or so I hope, for they/we are the future of this world)
How do I know that I’m not the one who has been brainwashed? How do I know that I’m not being blind to see the truth; that these people do not come here solely to exploit the wealth and good-heartedness of the people in this country? I know because empathy is not something we learn by reading the paper or any social media feed, it’s something we learn as children, on the playground, a virtue we should value highly and practice daily. It isn’t my head that tells me that welcoming people from other countries in financial or political trouble is the right thing to do, it’s a natural feeling. Natural as in innate. Natural as in necessary to maintain a life in community. Natural as in I know I have the responsibility to help. I emphasize not because I have to but because it is human and humane.
Arguing that whoever agrees with the government accommodating refugees should themselves invite them to their house is as invalid, narrow-minded and one-dimensional as it gets. The problem is not with those who are welcoming people into our country without offering them a bed in their own home, it is with those that think that more people could make their life worse. That only they should profit from the richness of their country, because they have been born here. And what exactly did you contribute to being born in a rich country? YOU WERE LUCKY. It’s not a merit and it’s certainly not a free ride to being racist and trying to exclude people. We obviously cannot host a million refugees, but what we can realistically do, we have to. There are always ways, and if there are none, we, as human beings are trained to create them. The answer to problems can never be hate towards those who are both least responsible and still have to live with the consequences.
I do believe, however, that another problem is the unfortunate combination of stupidity coped with the desperate need to make yourself be heard. Whoever shouts the loudest wins? Back on the playground, are we? Comments approving the government’s choice to help those in need are the minority in most comment sections. That is, so I believe, not an indication of the majority of the inhabitants being racist, but rather a sign of intelligible people refraining from unnecessary and aimless arguments, that will end in nothing but personal offense. These comment sections, as foolish as they may appear, serve the racists. Through the likes and comments their contributions get, they feel strengthened and supported in their convictions. It makes them think that they are in the right. A sign that their opinion is not based on personal experience or research, but rather on listening to the ones that shout the loudest. Vicious circle..
‘I’m not a racist, but..’
Yes, you are. Any sentence following this phrase will erase any doubt about you being racist. You are. Starting your sentence this way does not allow you to make any xenophobic comment. It’s like insulting someone and then saying ‘no offense’. Discrimination of any kind is inexcusable behavior. How dare you judge over anyone but yourself, judging over other people is a merit not a single person in this world has earned or will ever earn.
I know many people are tired, tired of being ignored by the government. People with real problems, with hungry families they have to feed. People feeling neglected and made fun of because they don’t get the help they’ve been promised. And all of a sudden, people who haven’t had to pay taxes for this country for their entire lives, people who’ve come here, seemingly not adding anything to society, they get to live here for free, get to live without having to work, without even knowing the language. But hate and racism can never be an answer. It is not the refugees’ fault that they are here, they didn’t choose to flee their own countries, their homes and families. These people are in need, they rely on other people to help them. It’s not their fault that they are being helped. Ignorance of the problems of others, hoping for them to leave as soon as possible is not going to solve your problems. These aggressions against people who seek nothing but protection, who want to live a life without the constant fear of being bombed, who want to live a normal life, will not better yours.
I get it, humans are animals. Our brains are trained to protect us. What we don’t know, we fear. But this is not the Stone Age. This is 2019. Fearing and rejecting someone because we don’t know them and they might look different is no longer tolerable. The best thing that can happen to us is by being open, by learning about others, because believe it or not, we all still have a lot to learn and if you think that the life you’re living is perfect, you are closing your eyes before much greater things that could enhance your life. We are animals, but we’re also social beings.
Compassion and love can go a long way. Don’t you dare ever forget that we’re all humans. We’re all the same and if someone needs help, it’s our responsibility to help them as much as we can. And as a country which does have the financial and spatial possibilities to help, we have to.
‘First of all,” he said, “if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view […] until you climb into his skin and walk around in it’ -Atticus (To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee)
Invent yourself, CK