“There Are Two Kinds Of People In The World”

Yup.

Exhibit A.

We’ve all heard the phrase “There are two kinds of people in the world.” That’s the first part of a common saying, which is usually followed by the second part: two options that relate to whatever point the speaker wants to prove.

It can be deep and meaningful (“Those who follow the rules and those who make the rules”)…

It can be funny (and, if your on Tumblr, a bit serial-killer-y)…

two kinds of people

Two kinds of people, folks.

It can be oddly specific (“People who understand football, and Manchester United fans”)…

Or even downright meta (“Those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don’t”).

Then there’s “There are 10 kinds of people in the world: Those who understand binary and those who don’t.”

And so on and so forth.

But here’s the thing that everyone–everyone–forgets, and that is the third part of this line:

You get to choose which group you’re in.

Hell, I’d go so far as to say you get to choose if you stay in those two options or pick door number three, but that’s a post for another day.

So if you stumble across this:

tear you down build you up

And you think, “Oh god, which one am I? Am I the kind of person who tears others down??”

Or even, “Well. I know I certainly don’t build anyone up…”

You get to pick.

No part of your past has control over your present. If you’re going through life–a follower, a take-no-actioner, a sit-back-and-let-life-happener, and you realize that you don’t like that path…switch lanes.

Life is a series of choices. And everyone is going to tell you what to choose, or how to choose, but only you can actually make the decision.

"I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it." ~Morpheus, The Matrix

“I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.” ~Morpheus, The Matrix

There is nothing keeping you where you are but you. Your environment, upbringing, and past might have influence, but they do not have control. The people around you might be more this or less that, but they are not the captain of your ship.

We’re not taught to see the world this way, but the simple reality is that we are the only ones who ultimately make our choices. Everyone around you, all your life, has simply been showing you doors. They might make it sound like you have no choice, but it’s a trick. It’s a lie. The choice is yours. It always has been. And part of “waking up” is realizing this.

At the end of your life–and in every moment before then–you and you alone will have to bear the full burden of your choices. The only way to make sure this isn’t a burden is to make choices that align with who you aspire to be. That is the one and only path to happiness: Choices that are true to you. It might sound selfish, but it’s actually the most loving thing you can do. The only way for you to contribute positively to the world around you is to let that inner light shine.

So whatever kind of person you are, and whatever kind of person you want to be, just remember that the choice is yours, and no one can tell you which option (if any) is right or wrong for you.

Choose the path that calls to you.

And keep your own personal brand of crazy in-tact.

Stay classy, internet.

Stay classy, internet.

 

Natural Ability vs. Making Conscious Effort

Everyone has things that come naturally to them, while other things seem completely insurmountable.

Some examples from my own life: I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was almost 21, I didn’t go on a single date until I was in my 20s, and probably the scariest thing I ever did was starting a business, because the entire time I felt like I was failing miserably at every step of it (and on more than one occasion, this was true, which made it even scarier). Selling feels like the weirdest, most unnatural thing in the world to me, and I am the actual worst at delegation.

Alternately, some things I’m naturally gifted in are writing, music, organization, and remembering movie quotes.

monty python tis but a scratch

“What are you going to do, bleed on me?!”

Plus, I pretty much made it through the entirety of my school years—including college—without having to study.

But in all seriousness, we’ve all got strengths and weaknesses, and while our strengths are fun to play up, our weaknesses is they make us feel…well…weak. We also tend to fixate on what we’re bad at more than what we’re good at. It’s an affliction our entire society suffers from.

I hated my weaknesses for the longest time. I thought they were my limitations—my barriers.

What it took me a while to realize was that they were actually one of my greatest assets.

Here’s how it works out, at least to me:

When things come easily to us, we don’t think much about them. This is fine—it can be a lot of fun and a nice break from the things we stress out about.

But the things that don’t come naturally? They push us. They challenge us. They demand we become more.

You have to think about those things, and that’s what makes us conscious. That’s what makes us actively think about and consider our actions. “Oh, hey. I need to do this thing and I can’t…why? How do I fix this? What do I do now?”

The things I’m not automatically good at have turned out to be my greatest gifts. They challenged me, they pushed me, they taught me how to overcome things and make myself into something greater. Life is boring when things are easy. I may have a college degree, but the fact that I barely had to work to get it means that it didn’t teach me half as much as my failed business ventures did.

The only way we grow is when we do something that pushes us out of our comfort zone, and makes us approach a problem from a new angle.

Our “weak” points also make us carefully evaluate our priorities. What’s the most important thing for us to do? To learn? Our time on this earth is limited, so we’d better make sure that, with the time we have, we’re focusing on the things that matter most to us.

So maybe you’re not good at sports, and maybe you don’t care. But maybe you’re struggling with music, which is something you very much want to be good at. Let the sports slide—let the music flow.

And the fact is, regardless of however talented (or untalented) you are at something, it’s going to take a lot of work to master it. There’s a level of dedication required in just about anything, and if you’re going to achieve any level of mastery, you’re going to have to commit for the long-haul.

This is probably discouraging. I know it always was for me. I knew where I wanted to be and I wanted to be there YESTERDAY, so hearing that I wouldn’t get where I wanted to go for a few years was just agonizing.

But I was lucky enough to get this piece of advice early in my life, and I cling to it in times of self-doubt and fear:

“Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.”

– Earl Nightingale

I was given this quote by my mother when I was a child, and I hold on to it like a rock in the middle of a storm at sea. Anytime I want to quit on something because I’m not getting the results fast enough, I remind myself that I can’t actually give up on my dreams. Not the real ones. They’ll claw their way out of me. They’ll eat me alive if I don’t give them the space to breathe.

So I press on. I try new things. I reassess the situation and form a new plan of attack. And I let go of the things that don’t serve me—the things I don’t really care about—so that I can focus on what I do love.

Will I ever be a pro basketball player? No. I don’t want to, so it’s pretty easy to know that I won’t put that effort in. But I will also probably never be a world-class violinist. I’m good at music, I have fun with it, and I might even be able to do something with it, but it’s not my focus. It’s a hobby.

Writing, though? That’s where my soul spills out. That’s where I put my energy. Even though it’s hard, I keep at it, because in this case, the struggle and pain are worth it. Writing isn’t a hobby, it’s my purpose.

A lot of things won’t feel worth the effort to you, and that’s fine; you don’t need to put your heart and soul into everything. Dabble, feel around, find the areas you love, and throw yourself into those with everything you have. Let other pursuits either be relaxing pastimes, or let them go completely. Only you can determine where your time is best spent, and where those creative energies need to go.

And one final note: “Finding your purpose” doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll always be easy. It’ll be damn hard work—you’ll know you’re in the right place when, even at its absolute worst, you know you can’t quite. You won’t want to, not really. You might stop for a while, but it’ll always draw you back in. Keep at it; what you’ll produce will amaze you.

Why Bullying Happens

You aren’t bullied because you’re gay, you’re bullied because someone else is homophobic.

You’re not bullied because you’re fat, you’re bullied because someone else is afraid of being rejected based on appearances.

You’re also not bullied because you’re a nerd, a certain race, or physically disabled.

YOU are not the problem. It might seem like you’re being bullied because of who and what you are, but you’re not.

You’re being bullied because someone else has severe issues.

YOU ARE NOT THE PROBLEM.

They have a problem. They are the problem. And it’s very painful to be on the receiving end of someone else’s pathology, but it’s also important to keep things in perspective.

Because when we say, “This happened because I’m short,” or “ugly” or “dumb” or “a woman” or “Hispanic” we subconsciously place the blame on ourselves. “It’s my fault I’m bullied because I’m so black” is the undercurrent of that kind of thinking. And NO. It’s their fault, because they don’t know how to deal with whatever personal problems they have, so they pick someone else, or a group of someones, to blame.

And it’s never rational. It makes sense to them, because it’s fueled by their pain, but it doesn’t make sense to anyone else. It’s like dream logic; when you’re caught in the middle of it, it all seems so obvious, but once you’re standing outside it, you can’t figure out what you were thinking. We’re all caught in our own little whirlwinds of wildly outlandish thought processes, and it only makes sense to us because we’re in the midst of it.

Unfortunately, a lot of people have a set of logical “rules” that are so out of whack, they cause a lot of pain for a lot of other people. And they’re so lost in it, they can’t even see how they’re the cause of the destruction around them. Talk about your vicious cycles.

I know this won’t make getting bullied easier. I know it doesn’t change how it feels to be discriminated against or hurt by another, to be judged or ridiculed or even physically attacked simply for being who you are…and it absolutely doesn’t excuse or make acceptable their behavior…

…But it’s very important that we stop assigning ourselves responsibility for the actions of others.

And on top of it, it makes it sounds like whatever you are—hard of hearing or Asian or bisexual—is wrong. And that’s also inaccurate. Being heavy or shy or more masculine/feminine than is expected of your gender isn’t wrong, it’s simply what you are. In fact, if it’s part of your identity, then it’s likely right…for you. Which is all that matters.

So don’t ever let yourself think that being transgendered or really interested in collecting bugs or in an unpopular team/club is something that’s WRONG. The bully is wrong. The abuse is wrong. You are right where and what you should be, and they have an irrational problem with that. You are awesome.

Ariel-disney-fabulous-gif-little-mermaid-Favim.com-238165-1-

Own your fabulosity.

I’m big on taking responsibility for what WE do, but that also means holding others responsible for what they do. If you’re in charge of your life, and all your thoughts, that means they have the same power over themselves.

So start reframing your thoughts. Start adjusting your perspectives. Don’t silently, and openly, place the responsibility on yourself for how another chooses to behave (because it’s ALWAYS a choice).

Don’t say “I was bullied because I’m not athletic.” Instead, say things like, “I was bullied today because ______ has unresolved pain.” “He’s picking on me because he’s hurting and misplacing his anger.” “She criticizes me because of some kind of insecurity I’m unaware of.”

Again, it doesn’t fix it. And it certainly doesn’t excuse it, but at least we’re acknowledging what’s actually going on here.

It might not be much, but it’s the first step, and an extremely necessary one. The only way we’re going to create any positive change is by realizing what’s going on and taking steps to work through that pain. That is how we’ll find the answers to questions like, “How do we end bullying?”

You are not the problem, but you very well might be part of the solution.

Fear Is Strong (But You Are Stronger)

“Hitler wanted to be an artist…Ever see one of his paintings? Neither have I.  Resistance beat him.  Call it overstatement but I’ll say it anyway: It was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank canvas.”

– Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

 

Fear is a very strange emotion.  It’s so deeply a part of our instincts, and so completely tied to our survival, that we don’t even realize how afraid we are half the time. We’re so used to the fear that we think it’s a given.

I’m not here to demonize fear—it isn’t all bad, and it’s not inherently wrong. It isn’t something to be vanquished or conquered or overcome. It’s something to be understood, felt, acknowledged, and worked with.

Some fear is a warning—”DO NOT EVEN. NOPE, NOPE, NOPE.”

nope nope nope nope nope

Just like this guy.

Other fear is a guidepost—”Yes, you need to do this. It’s scary, but it’s right.”

Our task is to learn to identify the nuances of each kind of fear within ourselves, and act accordingly (even if no one else agrees).

But how the heck do we even begin understanding the differences between those kinds of fears?

At first, it’ll take a bit of work. After a while, though, it’ll become second nature, and you’ll do it automatically.

Warning Fear comes in two different varieties. There’s the sudden grip of fear; what you feel when a loud sound scares you, or someone sneaks up on you and you get really startled by their presence. This is the “IMMEDIATE DANGER” warning system, and it’s pretty easily recognized. It’s also pretty easy to know what to do: Either move away from the threat, or laugh at how something non-threatening scared you so bad.

Then there’s that nagging, constant fear you feel when you’re being threatened more subtly. You feel this when you meet someone and they make you uneasy, or you notice something off about a situation (though you often can’t place it). You feel this when someone you’re close to is angry with you, and you know it before they say anything.

As you get more practiced at recognizing these, you’ll find that this second variety of warning fear apps being so…well…scary. It becomes recognizable, friendly, even helpful. You’ll learn to use it widely, rather than let it drive you into anger or anxiety.

Dealing with this one can be a bigger challenge, since it often incomes extracting yourself from situations, or removing certain people from your life. As I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, people are pretty resistant to change. So now you have to first convince yourself to change the situation, then you possibly have to deal with everyone else’s confusion and resistance to your decision. But if your gut is showing to you, then ending that relationship, disassociating from those friends, switching your academic focus, changing what you’ve been doing for years…they might make sense, if you’re feeling this kind of fear and resistance toward them.

The third kind of fear, the “GO DO THIS THING” fear, is also pretty easily identified once you know what you’re looking for; it’s the “I want this so bad it hurts” feeling. It’s how you feel when you start applying to your dream colleges, or you want to ask someone you really like out. It’s how you feel when you get accepted for a job you’re really excited to do. It’s actually excitement, but it tangled up with your self-preservation instinct and wild imagination to produce a collection of possible disaster scenarios, and that creates fear, rather than joy.

The trick with this one is to pay attention. This fear and the “subtle warning fear” are easily confused, so sometimes you think you’re excited-scared, but really you were warning-scared. Other times, you might think there’s a threat, but really there’s an opportunity. The skill you’ll need here is to learn to get out of your own way. It sounds weirder than it is, but it’s essentially just learning to figure out what you’re FEELING, as opposed to what you’re THINKING. Remember, your mind will invent all kinds of crazy scenarios, so you might be reacting to one of your imagined disasters, rather than what’s actually happening.

What I want to focus on here is the third kind of fear—often called Resistance.

Resistance is straight-up evil. It’ll pretend it’s your friend, that it’s looking out for your best interests, but in reality, it’s there to destroy everything you could be before that part of you even has the chance to be born.

If left unchecked, Resistance will stop you from doing the things you most want to do, and in fact need to do. In Steven Pressfield’s words, “Resistance’s goal is not to wound or disable. Resistance aims to kill.”

The worst thing is that all the reasons Resistance gives for you not to do something sound so damn legitimate. They’re not stupid reasons, like, “Well…I would, but the lights on the Christmas tree are out and I have to go get new ones.” They’re real, like, “I need to finish this work/school/job first,” or “I’m not ready for ____ yet, first I need to learn a skill/practice more/move to a new state,” or “I don’t have the time/money/skills/resources/connections to do it.”

It sounds so legitimate—I mean, you really are swamped right now, right? You did just move/start a difficult class/go through a rough breakup—you really are super busy with school and work and you already don’t sleep enough…

So it makes these little statements about why you can’t and why this isn’t the “right time”, and they all sound very realistic and responsible.

And you know what Resistance tacks on the end of each of these statements? “Yet.”

That’s a dangerous word right there. I have lost years of creating and dream-making to the word “yet.”

It’s dangerous because it promises that, while you can’t have this thing now, you will have it someday!

DON’T BELIEVE THIS. “Someday” isn’t a thing!  I wish I knew who said this, but whoever it was, they were absolutely right:

“There are seven days in the week and ‘someday’ isn’t one of them.”

There will never be a “right time” for anything. Not really. You can be more or less prepared, but there is no such thing as a time when life isn’t busy, stressful, hectic, and “too busy” for your dreams.

You will never do the things you say you’ll do “later”. You have to do them now. You have to do it despite all the obstacles and road blocks and unfortunate circumstances—the only time you have is now, so use it.

It’s OK if you don’t believe me—you can believe JK Rowling, who wrote Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on the subway, at the café, and in whatever little snatches of time she could find between working full time, being a single mother to an infant, and mourning the very recent death of her beloved mother.

Or Chris Gardener, author of The Pursuit of Happyness, who managed to be a top performer at his company while struggling with homelessness and caring for his toddler son…also as a single parent.

Want a less uplifting example?  Ask almost anyone you know.  Ask them what their dream was, and if they followed it.  If the answer is “No,” ask them why.

It all boils down to fear. Resistance. Self-imposed limitations. And you have to know how to talk to it–to make it shut up.

Tell 'em, Sméagol.

Basically like this.

I’m not saying you need to accomplish your biggest dream RIGHT NOW, but devoting even the tiniest bit of time to your goals every day is going to be so much better, and feel so much better, than ignoring that desire, letting it fester and die inside you.

One final note: Don’t feel guilty about being afraid. You’re not stupid or weak or anything bad just because you’re scared. Of course you’re scared—this thing called life? It’s pretty scary. Going out into the world, figuring out who and what you want to be, what you want to do, where you want to go, and how any of this is going to get done. It’s scary. I’m scared. Everyone’s scared. We’re all scared together—it’s OK. It’s human.

Just recognize that fear does hold you back, and probably already has in one way or another, and it will keep doing that until you stop it.

The bad news: Fear will never fully go away, and the battle against Resistance will be a life-long one. This is the state of the human condition.

The good news is, seeing as it never ends, it’s also never too late to start. And there are a lot of tactics to get you through. And once you get the hang of it, it becomes so much easier to maintain.

You can’t live your life by skirting around your fears—if they’re standing between you and who you want to be, then you have to face them. Your life won’t be full otherwise.

The second set of good news is that, if I can overcome my fears, literally anyone else can. More on that later. For now, just remember: Fear is strong, but you are stronger.

And remember…

:)

#LikeABoss