These days I’ve been encountering more triggers for derailment than glowing road signs saying “Yes darling, you’re on the right path, and you’re getting free lemonade every 5 meters.” However, even from the very beginning, I had been well aware that this was going to be anything but the yellow brick road. I had prepared myself for a bloodbath.
Now the battle is indeed ensuing, and there are a lot of ugly things surfacing. If you’ve seen enough of the real world, you will witness the great lengths people will go to further their own interests even if it means taking advantage of others. You will see the cunning of the wicked, the blind disrespect of the ego-driven, the insensitivity of the self-absorbed, and the cutthroat competitiveness of those hungry for recognition and acclaim. This is the dark side of humanity, and though I still believe there is goodness and altruism in this world, the malevolence humans are capable of is all too real to ignore.
It is, indeed, what they call “hell in the hallway”, and often it feels like one has to turn into one of the devils just to survive and open doors.
So amidst it all, though I had braced myself for a struggle, there are still moments when I feel darkness smudge up the pure core of light and hope I fight to protect day in and day out. In such moments, I feel myself close to morphing into the very kind of person I have vowed to avoid becoming at all costs. And it is not a nice feeling. It feels like getting rocked out of my center, and driven to fall into a dark pit if I don’t make a deliberate decision to stay focused on what is good and be guided by what is right.
Thus, I find the need to recenter , time and again.
For this purpose, I have drawn up a list I could go back to in times when I need to find my center again. For the past couple of trying days, I had been running several points of this list in my head, and I find that reminding myself of them does help me recenter and retain an exceptional level of self-restraint even when I feel like I am about to blow up in frustration and annoyance. This list is mostly made up of the values and principles I have chosen to be my life’s cornerstones, stated as patient reminders to the flustered, bewildered self I become when confronted by the uglier, more vicious side of the world.
“We detect rather than invent our missions in life…Each of us has an internal monitor or sense that gives us an awareness of our own uniqueness and the singular contributions that we can make.” — Stephen Covey
You are where you are for a reason. You say you feel this is your path. You say you know that this is what you should be doing. You say you care for what you are working for. Now, quit your bitching about how difficult it is, and get your head down and work.
“If you’re lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find courage to live it.” — John Irving
“The rest you can learn, but you can’t teach passion.” — unknown
Excellence and success are good, but those who live with genuine happiness well understand that excellence and success are not the be-all and end-all of this life. If anything, they should simply be the by-products, borne out of your passion, respect and dedication for what you do.
So work for things that matter to you, use what you’ve been given, give it all you’ve got, and hone your strengths and talents as best as you can. Your passion is the single best element that can not only fuel your self-discipline, inspire excellence, and yield success, but also allow you to live a life infused with a sense of joy and fulfillment.
“The Master in the Art of Living draws no distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, hid education and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing and leaves it to others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he is always doing both.” —James Michener
“In our personal lives, if we do not develop our own self-awareness and become responsible for first creations, we empower other people and circumstances to shape much of our lives by default…We are either the second creation of our own proactive design, or we are the second creation of other people’s agendas, of circumstances, or of past habits.” – Stephen R. Covey
It’s a crazy world out there, and people are gonna tell you what you have to do, who you have to be, and even who you are. But no one knows your dreams better than you do. No one understands what will make you happy more deeply than you do. No one will fight for your dreams and your happiness harder than you can. Take responsibility for your life and your choices, and you’ll find yourself aligning more and more in favor of what you really want, instead of being just a dead fish floating downstream and bemoaning you’re not in a better place.
“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!” – Rocky Balboa
“Life is a long lesson in humility.” ― J.M. Barrie
Practice humility. There will always be things you still don’t know, things you can learn from others. Never be too proud or too high up on a pedestal so as not to listen anymore. Be open to criticism, and learn what you can, even from destructive ones.
Remember, always, to not let success and praise get to your head. To let recognition and acclaim be your sole aims in this life is a dangerous thing that will have you tread an unworthy and soul-destroying path. Work in silence, and dedicate yourself to results—how well you have done your work and fulfilled your purpose—and not to the rewards and glory the world affords.
“Stay hungry, stay young, stay foolish, stay curious, and above all, stay humble because just when you think you got all the answers, is the moment when some bitter twist of fate in the universe will remind you that you very much don’t.” ― Tom Hiddleston
“Live and let live.” – unknown
Recognize that there are differences between your perspectives and those of others. Respect diversity of opinion, choices, and way of life. Seek always to withhold judgment. Practice broadmindedness, especially when you feel irked by the way others are treating you or handling the situation. Maybe they have their reasons for doing the things they do; maybe they have perceived things you have been too narrow-minded to perceive. When you feel misunderstood, be the one who understands.
“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.” – Paulo Coelho
“This above all: To thine own self be true.” — Shakespeare
Much of our personal struggles are borne out of trying to be something we’re not. We pretend a lot. We try to fit in, because it’s a way of getting accepted. We try to want what other people want, because we think it’s going to make us happy, too. We paint over our own colorful dreams with a different hue, because we believe we don’t carry the colors we need to realize our own dreams.
But if there’s one thing I learned in life, it is this: You never need to apologize for who you are. You don’t have to downplay, upsize, or radically reshape your dreams just to fit others’ expectations of you. You don’t need to become anything other than the best version of yourself. Fidelity to your own passions and purpose, and to the very person that you are, is the key to a life that breeds happiness, productivity, fulfillment, and the kind of joy that springs from the depths of your soul. There is nothing pretentious or superficial about this way of life, and there’s nothing easy about it, too. I, for one, had to learn the value of genuineness the hard way.
Nonetheless, thus far, I can say: It’s worth every bead of sweat, every drip of blood, and every drop of tear it has cost me to learn this.
“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” – E.E. Cummings
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