Stockholm Syndrome for the Comfortable

January 19, 1015

Quick Note on Coding: This stuff takes a while, but it's going to be totally worth it. By L'Oreal.

My livelihood seems to depend on forward movement. That constant drive that prickles underneath every thought throughout every day: how can you do more? We're told the impulse to capitalize, to make the life you want, is all you need if you are simply unique enough to actually follow it.

We are held back by routine in the shadows of settlement that is not inherent but learned. Many grow up with lush, expansive trees with low-hanging branches that they can easily swing between in making their way to the top, so maybe they can afford more wasted time. You may not have those reachable branches or even any trees at all. Whatever the reasons, it may appear easier for some than it is for you, but dwelling on that does no good. It doesn't mean you cannot plant the seeds and make your own path. You're just a little behind! I'm behind,too... I grew up in the sleepy suburbs where, aside from watching too much TV, trees are all but banned from textbooks and the inspiration of nature was most closely represented by the local ditch, which was like the Great Valley in The Land Before Time. Squirrels still distract me as something novel.

Me, after moving to beautiful Austin.

Anyway, maybe you are left with the gnawing frustration that wherever you go, you don't belong. Everyone is asking obvious questions, using meetings to waste time in a false sense of accomplishment, and generally not recognizing common sense. Maybe you ARE the smartest person in the room and maybe you DON'T belong.

You are cut out for more and, if you don't pursue it, you will be stuck, stunted in that room; a tree whose branches cannot grow outward and upward so they warp to the shape of confinement. It can shape you into something else entirely. Eventually a picture of your gnarly entanglement of branches would be posted to Reddit and turned into a sad meme and only then would you realize you need to break from that routine that is so viciously consuming your livelihood as though the universe feeds on the misplaced ambitions of "some day" thinkers; the people who let any comfort get in their way of moving upwards and breaking through the roof - binging on Netflix, day-drinking under the guise of brunch, clicking every single link on Buzzfeed and feeling like these habits are a good use of time. This is the Stockholm Syndrome of the potential doers who are captured in comfort and it is phenomenally epidemic.

Do you want this to be you?
I'm going to profile myself for an example because all excuses above come from extensive personal experience:
  • Work: I am a 28-year-old special education teacher and I am good at what I do. My students like me and my paperwork looks like I have fun doing it.
  • Home: I rent alone in a smaller, wealthier section of Austin primarily owned by "yuppie" couples, whose husbands, I can only guess, work in some facet of the tech industry and whose wives probably all have their own blogs about baby fitness and all-natural lint removal methods. My apartment is 540 square feet; a "minimalist" milestone in my life.
  • Hobbies: Writing, simple crafts, dehydration, holiday decoration, organizing, reading anything close to Harry Potter, not cooking very well, and ukulele.
  • Life philosophy: Life is short and no magnitude of mistakes will matter when it ends. Change and risk cannot wait and they will happen whether you accept them readily or not. I hope I can love my life now because one day I will be remembering it longingly.
  • Personality: I write on a frequent but undependable basis. I keep a clean apartment, I love company, but I prefer the majority of my time to be spent working on endeavors. I consider myself to be a self-starter. I enjoy the mornings and I find meaning in life largely through following whatever makes me curious.
  • What's missing: I have always felt the simmering, underlying drive, seasoning my malcontent with a hint of something tastier.

Am I not?

For all my entrepreneurial characteristics, I believe I lack the imaginative visions that really take a man (or woman, rather) to new heights. What use is singing in the employee-happiness-minded startup community? What will my penchant for getting high on achievement through exercise or home improvement do for a business? I am working 50 hour weeks with little hope of upward mobility and, wherever I go, I'm left with that clouding frustration... what can I do?

That is the same question that blocks the writing of so many prospective success stories. We all distract ourselves from this paralysis with entertainment; we secretly conserve our best and sit on it, but fail to get up and let it out from under our musty derrieres. How can those lacking in innovative ideas exploit that drive and perhaps even inspire something greater from themselves without pouring their best qualities into someone else's corporation? Can the motivated be truly happy without being their own bosses? Obviously. It would be ideal to be your own boss, but it can still happen "someday." It just won't unless you really work now. You have to build those skills now and use that free time fully now. I think with enough momentum, it can carry through.

So, how do you use your free time? And build what skills? Well these are questions worthy of their own discussions and, duh, they are beyond me. I mean, look at this blog.... But, it is really just up to you. Volunteer your time somewhere you can learn the ropes or do some good, gain experience, and sharpen skills. Start a no-pressure blog where your brain will constantly make note of topic ideas. Keep a notebook. Learn to code. Start investing. Do what feels good. It's like sugar - the more you consume, the more you'll crave.

This feast of ambitious optimism is inspired in me because I am someone who came out at the other end of a horrendous and claustrophobic tunnel, life split into "before" and "after", but who now squeaks from the occasional realization of overwhelming happiness when no one is around. When I go for walks, nostalgic sensations peek out; sights and sounds awaken memories of feelings I used to have when I was younger while tirelessly riding around on my banana-seat bike. There's an undefinable sweetness in those moments from I don't know what: deep-rooted hedonism, adventure, possibility, beauty, remembering intrinsic self-worth.

For me, this blog still feels like a big step in an unspecified direction. Did you read that whole profile about me? I'm inclined to think no one will and even feel a little dirty for including it. Anyway, as I'm sure my neighbors and all their worldly peers have the healthy-living and parenting well-covered, my blog's direction could be pretty much anything else. I'll just have to see what develops. Perhaps the direction has just written itself: motivation for the unmotivated motivated! It's all very confusing and I feel passionate about adding to this confusion. As I write this, I don't even know how to turn it into a blog and not many people are likely to read this when I do. But, as long as I see some movement, it'll lead me to something else and that's all I really want.


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