“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost
Sometimes when you try and deconstruct the reasons for your insecurities and diminished sense of self-esteem, you realize the biggest one is that you grew up in a homogenous society that loved making comparisons.
“Did you see what grade your neighbor got?”
“Why can’t you be more like so and so?”
The worse part is this, not only do you start internalizing external messages as you grow older, but your overexposure to social media blows everything out of proportion so the source of the feeling becomes internal as well as external.
“Did you see this guy became CEO?”
“This guy?! How? He was such a loser at school. What am I doing with my life?”
And your existential crisis begins.
How about we stop doing this to ourselves and to others?
So this post’s message is simple; “Don’t aspire to be the next Bill Gates, Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg. Be the next you.”
And I know that some people say the idea that we’re all unique snowflakes has made millennials more entitled than the previous generation. But I’d rather propagate that idea than encourage sameness and homogeneity because those cause bigger problems.
Those two words are really simple, but not quite easy to do. Together, they form the foundation of any personalized education, which as I mentioned in a previous post is the ideal to aspire for. However, schools as they currently stand are not ideal and still can’t efficiently tailor-make programs for every individual, which means…
Every student needs to take control of their own learning, and choose what to do with what they’ve learnt.
As I always say in #GeekSpeak, you’re the triple integral of your values, experiences and environment, and the result of that should be celebrated.
So how do you know yourself?
Before we delve into that, let me tell you about this spot in Mombasa called Mama Ngina Drive (or what’s commonly known as lighthouse)…
It’s a popular hangout where you sit and eat muhogo ya kuchoma or crisps with masala as you contemplate life. The sea breeze carries you on a mental journey where you dissect every decision that got you to this point…It’s picturesque and tranquil, and you can sit there for hours and marvel at how at every single point in life, people are born, others die, some get married, others say goodbye, and the ocean is oblivious to all that…it just continues doing what it’s always been doing; building up waves just to destroy them in a foamy crash against the cliff.
Over and over again.
A lot of people think that to know yourself requires you to be seated in such a spot and look out at the horizon…but it doesn’t really work that way.
Knowing yourself might start in your head, but at some point you’ve got to get out of it and engage with the world and develop enough self-awareness to gauge how you feel about whatever you do.
In other words, take action.
Which is why the concept of experimentation is really important. Run small experiments in your life and see how you feel about what you’re doing. Whether you hate it or love it, succeed or fail is really irrelevant. The only thing to remember is that every experiment will give you a datapoint to inform your next decision. Ideally, you’re seeking the feeling of flow that comes from working at the right challenge/skill ratio as explained here. You’re also seeking to build a skillset that will make you valuable to the market because let’s admit it, you’ve got to eat.
Experimentation comes naturally to toddlers because we’re all born curious. You can’t leave your laptop unattended in a house full of children or you’ll find a kid experimenting on the effect of the ground on the laptop upon impact. But somehow with time, we grow out of our curiosity…We get so sucked into life with its pre-defined paths to think beyond [those paths] and within [ourselves] to what we really want to do.
Before getting into the details of experimentation in the next post, it is important to note that a prerequisite to it is living in an environment where failing is not only acceptable but also encouraged. But this is usually a privilege to many, which is why people like Mark Zuckerberg said,
“We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure everyone has a cushion to try new ideas.”
To be continued…
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