By now, most adults who have ‘graduated’ and gone on to join the real world already know that the overall picture is not that rosy after all. It is like a statistical delusion: “80% of drivers think they have above average driving skills”. The shared net of safety is an illusion. The fact that no other animals or fellow humans are out there to kill you (I hope) is a good enough reason to rejoice. Not only you’ll have to fend for yourself, you’re responsible for what happens in your life at each turn. It is a conundrum for which an all-satisfactory solution hasn’t been found for centuries: how to do your own thing while still being a responsible member of the society. You are actually putting together different threads to form a beautiful canvas in societies, and you know no two threads are the same. Some are beautiful, some ugly, some are useful ,some useless. You imagine yourself as an important part of this magnificent canvas, yet you cannot afford to be just a replaceable and forgotten thread, you have too much energy and ambition to just be silently sewn there and doing what you are told. You yearn to be a shining star in this huge cosmos, rather than a cold moon revolving around a decaying planet. You definitely want to wake up from this hypnosis of imaginary no-risk planetary alignment.
Living in the constant fear of rocking the boat, you overestimate the risk from novelty and uniqueness and underestimate the potential of a single being. The list of deep seated fears is endless: the fear of basic survival, the fear of being left alone, the fear of being ridiculed, the fear of not living up to your full potential. The equation has hundreds of inputs affecting the final outcome, but the basic tenet remains the same.
There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.
Cliche, but I will keep it anyway. It reminds us of the role we need to play to balance the scales.
Here are some ridiculously simple ways I can think of to survive smartly in this expansive wild desert.
- Diversify. As with savings, do not put all your eggs in a single basket. Don’t depend on a single institution or skill. You never know when the sole support system fails to respond, or worse, turns into your enemy.
- Be an authority. It is infinitely better to have a set of unique skills so that you’re not easily replaceable than learning something just because it is in fashion. Luddites had an unsustainable problem with change. You need to put in the silent years of rigorous training before you can call yourself an expert and stand proud on the high pedestal for negotiation.
- Create. Perfection is over-rated. Shipping a mediocre work is a far better alternative than endlessly waiting for the lightning of perfection to strike your creation.
- Be a connector. The value of a network increases exponentially with every useful node added. Be a bottomless-pit-of-a-resource by having the right set of people around you. Every connection you helped create that solves a pain point will be remembered and cherished. You’re sewing an elaborate net which ‘catches’ if you fall.
- Redefine yourself. You cannot afford to stand still after attaining a high-point in the dynamic environment that we live in; you will be left behind soon enough. Be open to change. Accept and explore new ways of doing things. Take change in your stride and try to capitalize on the opportunities which are not in full-view as of yet. Be anti-fragile!
- Be street smart. All the skills and expertise goes down the drain if you’re not able to deal with people. Know the right mix of honesty, patience and hardwork which works for you.
- Don’t bitch around. We live in a small world. People get to know what you really think. Besides, people these days are too busy to listen to shit. Unless it’s about that sexy chick/hunk, of course.
- Do your own thing. There will be naysayers, and risk and reward is a tightly meshed cord connecting the journey of life. Listen to other people, but you are responsible for your final call. Don’t be a spineless scapegoat. Live a life worth a recap.
Because you are already naked.