One of the toughest pills to swallow? Often, your parents are a great example of what not to do.
I love my parents, but I don’t want my life to turn out the way theirs’ did. So my remedy for this is to both filter out many of the things they say to me and seek zero percent of their approval.
I went to visit my folks a few days ago for my birthday. Throughout the entire trip, there were several moments of me practicing what I just preached.
I’m sitting in my dad’s kitchen just talking about life. “How’s the marketing job going?” “Great,” I tell him. I haven’t been employed for months.
If he’d paid any attention to what I’d been doing over the past half-decade — building my writing career — instead of projecting an image of what he thought I should be doing, he know that.
We talk about going on a trip to Nigeria. He tells me the cost of the plane tickets. “I’m down to go anytime,” I say. He goes, “Oh look at you. Are you rich now?” In my mind, I think, “Well, yeah, rich enough to go on the trip, easily.” I let it slide. I didn’t want to impress him. I just wanted to go on the trip.
There are many moments like this on the trip. Similar to the moments you’ve had with your parents. No matter what you do, how much you progress, or how much you’ve changed, they can’t help but go back to the snapshot they took of your personality long ago. The same often goes for your friends and peers.
What should you do about this? Let it go. Love them, wholly, ignorance included.
A few months back, I offhandedly mentioned to my mom that I’d quit my job to write full-time.
“Oh…Ayo” you can already imagine the tone of voice she used. That tone that says “Oh…poor confused baby. Why would you do something so risky and foolish?” I just moved on to the next part of the conversation.
A few weeks later, she sends me a text “bored with writing yet?” Again, she knows her son as the kid who always tried new things, got bored quickly, and quit. I texted her a screenshot of my income report and replied “no.”
Again, I didn’t have anything to prove, per se, but it was more of a way to quell her fears and let her know that I’m doing just fine.
See, here’s you have to understand about your parents, family, friends or anyone else you interact with who seems to be “stuck in the Matrix.”
They’re not escaping. Ever. Not only that, there’s nothing you can do to save them, convince them, or change them in any way. Knowing how hard it was to change myself makes me realize the sobering fact that, for the most part, it’s better to assume the people closest to me aren’t going to change — not even budge an inch — and then operate from that perspective.
It’s better for everyone this way.
For you, it takes the chip off your shoulder. For them, they get to maintain the image of you they hold dear. They need that image. Because if your image changes, theirs has to as well.
Your parents should want you to do better than they did. And they do. But, often, they want you to be better than them by following a path similar to theirs. They want you to run on the hamster wheel, but just faster.
There are quite a few exceptions to this rule. Don’t get me wrong. Many people have supportive parents who want them to do whatever they want. I’ll be one of those parents.
And the idea that all of your friends want to pull you down like a “crab in a bucket” isn’t true either.
Some people will be inspired by your change. Often, only a few in the beginning. But over time, many if not most of the people you know will actually start to look up to you. Again, you shouldn’t really “care” either way, but it’s interesting to watch it happen.
It’s funny. The people who don’t know me personally and just read my writing have absolutely no clue how wild, ridiculous, and frankly erratic and dangerous I used to be. I’ve told many stories about my past, but you’d have to be there to get the full picture of just how insane of a ride it was.
On the one hand, some people just won’t accept the transformation from the old me to who I am now. It’s too jarring to even comprehend. But for others, it turns a light switch on in their brain — if he could do it, what am I capable of?
Regardless of where you come from, to begin with, many people will be inspired by what you do. A few people will reach out directly and tell you, but many will be silent observers. This is important to know.
If you feel you do need the support of others around you, know the support is there. It might not manifest in some direct way, but it’s there. Use this “hidden knowledge” to keep going.
But before you get to this point where others are in awe of what you’re doing, you’ll have to actually, you know, do something.
A few months ago I decided to start posting more heavily on social media. Doing the whole “branding” thing to increase my reach a bit. But I didn’t start there. Nor should you. In the beginning, just do the fucking work.
Not that I’m done or anything, far from it, but I spent a half-decade perfecting my craft before I really started to “build a personal brand,” or whatever. Instead, I worked on perfecting the style I have now — presenting my observations as a student of life in my own right, not telling people exactly what to do, but rather how I did it and how they can possibly do it too by taking similar steps.
If I had come out of the gate blasting social media content about how to change your life without first changing my own life, it would have rung hollow as most self-help content seems to. I focused on trying to get really good and having a really measured message to get where I am today.
As a result of that, I now have a platform, an audience, a fan base, the numbers, the metrics, the clout. Most people don’t want to go this route because it’s … hard. No, instead, they want the credit upfront.
Ask yourself, why should your friends, family, peers, and the random abyss of potential tribe members online give a flying fuck about what you’re doing?
Like, are they supposed to be jumping for joy because you started a little blog two months ago and posted some cute little content on social media?
In fact, the default state of people not believing in you is the proper stance for them to take because most people are full of shit.
I’ve long been searching for the answer to this ailment. I don’t know quite what causes it, but I know this faulty attitude when I see it — the “build it and they will come” mindset. You think that the mere fact you’re trying to go on this mission counts. It doesn’t. Not at all.
Outcomes matter. And the truth of the matter is people will only want to deal with you and respect your hustle long after you’ve put the work in. They want the finished product.
Now people want to “pick my brain,” constantly. And if it doesn’t take up to much time, I’ll let them. But I almost never give them the full truth.
Why? Let me explain.
When I give advice as part of my real work, I put my all into it, try to present every different angle possible, and pepper my suggestions with caveats because I know how nebulous and even dangerous giving advice can be.
But when it comes to people close to me who want advice, I keep it bland and generic.
Why? Because they don’t really want to see how the sausage is made.
I know my progress excites them, but I also know they’re not really ready to hear the entirety of what I know.
Last night, I went to dinner with a friend who wants to become a writer himself. I gave him the bullet points. I even gave him more detail and nuance as I could see that he did seem to be earnest about wanting to start.
Even so, I didn’t paint the picture of just how hard it will be to get his writing career off the ground. He will have to find that out for himself.
You will have to find that out for yourself, too.
Here’s what will happen when you try to do this whole unconventional life path thingy. On an almost daily basis, for years, you’ll be astounded by how much you didn’t know you didn’t know about the process of becoming successful. The skills on top of skills, each embedded with micro-skills on top of micro-skills.
You’ll understand the phrase, “If I knew upfront how much work it would be, I’d of never gotten started.” After doing all of that work, you’ll be reluctant to give your friends advice. You come full circle.
In the beginning, you’ll want to “preach the gospel” because you’re excited about personal development, and no one will care. When you have a bit of an arrival, you’ll be barraged with requests for advice, and you won’t want to give it.
What exactly am I trying to say here?
I’m a self-help writer who promotes his work, but not too overtly, who will give advice to friends, but not fully, who wants to help others, but knows he can’t save many or even most people.
I’ve settled into this ethos for my life:
I’m only here to provide the message for people who are ready and willing to receive it. Not only do I know that I’ll only truly help maybe five percent of the people I come into contact with, but my entire mission in life is to help this small group of people.
I’m an optimist, but not a utopian. I’m ambitious, but I’m also realistic. I will be here for you, and anyone else, always, but I know I’ll change a few lives at best if I’m lucky. And that would mean the world to me. It will satisfy both my altruistic and selfish desires. I have both.
What I have, and what I want to give you, is that core sense of confidence that:
If you can get to that place, the place where the world opens up to you and you have the full intention of helping combined with the full lack of a need for a specific outcome, you’ll have escaped the matrix.
Reality will belong to you.
It’s nice. I’m not gonna lie.