identity

Business advice, Conquering Fears

Are You A Pretender?


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“To be nobody but yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you somebody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. — e.e. Cummings” 

So, what do you do?

Classic question, isn’t it? Whenever someone asks me this question, I always feel compelled to answer with the thing I’m doing at the time that is giving me money. Right now, to give an example, I’m a mountaineer, before that, I owned a brewery, so I described myself as an entrepreneur. It’s understandable, people have an almost “from fabric” framework in which they fit you in their minds. It’s just too difficult to take the time to know every one they meet really well. So it’s way easier to think of people as doctors, lawyers, bums, cousins, ah, lovely prejudices.

But as Cummings well remarks, to be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you be somebody else, is, and will be the hardest fight of your life.

But Cummings is right, why do our stories need to be constrained to what we do for a living? It’s like having a big label on our foreheads that says I am this, I am that.

Even though human beings are immensely complicated.

“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.” ― Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Think about your father, or your coworker, are you aware of all their relationships? Everything that makes them sad, happy, angry? Their hobbies? Their Netflix feed? All their secrets? It’s true, we are an profound mystery to each other.

So, who decides who you are? Who is going to tell your story? Yourself? Your diploma? The answer you give to this question has profound consequences on how the way you see life itself.

Story Creatures

We are “story” creatures. The world is one big chaos. The information on the world is so vast that you can only hope to process a small part of it. But that is good, because much of that information is irrelevant, at least to you. You only need so much information to make your way in the world and you do so by making up stories. You are a character in other people’s lives as they are characters in yours.

Let me tell you a quick story.

My father has a construction company. One time, he was working in a psychiatric hospital because they needed to built another wing and make some general changes. So one day when he arrived to the hospital as he walked through security and into the hallway that lead to administration, he saw a doctor approaching towards him, serious manner but friendly nonetheless. My father had never seen him so he introduced himself and greeted him, the doctor did the same. The doctor began to ask my father about the construction work and telling him that they were going to need a second bathroom on the hallway and another corridor and a lot more things. My father was confused as that was not at all what he had talked about with the administration, so he walked with him for a while. After about half an hour of rambling, another doctor, whom my father knew, came in laughing his ass off. Apparently, the “doctor” my father was speaking to was just a patient that had stolen a coat.

Interesting isn’t it?

If anyone asks you, what do you do? And you respond that you are a drug dealer, trust me, if you have enough conviction, they will believe you. For a story to be true, at least in the head of somebody else, you just need one thing. Belief.

The same is applicable to you of course. You want a new story, create it, edit yourself. You are not constrained to what society wants you to be, you can decide what your story is or will be all about.

“First say to yourself what you would be;
and then do what you have to do.” 
― Epictetus

In fact, it is of fundamental importance for you to choose your own story and not let it be dictated by other people. Here’s why.

Howard Campbell Jr. is an american spy created by Kurt Vonnegut’s in his book Mother night. In the book, he becomes the voice of the Nazi regime in the radio. Ostensibly, he is praising and inspiring the Reich followers and spreading the Nazi propaganda, but in fact, he is sending coded messages to the allies back to the United States. But, while doing so, he arrives to a dilemma. It seems that his “fake” inspirational messages are motivating and inspiring more the enemy than his labor of assisting the allies. He became, paradoxically, a Nazi supporter without wanting to. The moral of Vonnegut is the following.

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”  Kurt Vonnegut

So what are you pretending to be? What is your day like? How much of your story is done by yourself and in how much of it you’ve just kind of fallen into?

The counter story is the one of Don Quixote.

If you want to be a knight, act like a knight

Whatever you decide to be, it’s as simple as beginning, it’s as simple as believing the story you want to create. Please my friend, do so. There are far too many normal jobs out there, craft your own hey?

If you ought to be a writer, write. – Epictetus

a great complement to this read: How to Start

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Modern problems, Psychology, Self development, Stoic advice, Uncategorized

Walk the talk


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I hadn’t really understood, in my heart, what Ryan Holiday meant with the title of his egobook: The ego is the enemy. I have to admit that I was hesitant of reading it when it first came out. The obstacle is the way, was fantastic so I did push myself to buy it and give it a go. At first, I couldn’t conceive the notion of having my ego as an enemy, the idea of having a war with my ego seemed like having a war with “me”, and if I had a war with “me”, then insanity would be just around the corner. It almost seemed as if you had to hate yourself, being yourself the enemy. Bit Schizophrenic isn’t it? Later I began to understand what the Ego is and realized that I could not rationally call the Ego “myself”.

Ryan defines the ego as “an unhealthy belief in our own importance. Arrogance. Self-centered ambition.” The need to be better than, more than, recognized for, far past any reasonable utility—that’s ego.

The ego can be compared to a child inside ourselves. A winning and detestable child, desperate for attention and willing to do anything to obtain it. This child thinks the whole world revolves around him and demands all eyes to direct their attention to him. He acts for attention, approval, and validation and to assure his feeling of greatness. He also believes in his heart that he deserves it. He feels entitled to attention and therefore becomes mad when he does not get it (anxiety levels are soaring). This way of being, obviously, is prejudicial as it separates the person from reality.

If you think you deserve greatness, why would you have to actually work for it? When you are trying to prove you are smart, you are more concerned about appearing to be smart than on actually being smart and doing the things that make up for a smart person and that right there, is the problem.

The ego functions by searching for ways to assure himself that he is great. Our times are great for this indeed! All of our inner spoiled brats have to do is upload a photo of some nicely crafted Tacos on Instagram and get hearts and validation as if it were his! This reminds me of the following stoic phrase.

Don’t be prideful with any excellence that is not your own. If a horse should be 12_cabecera_1prideful and say, ” I am handsome,” it would be supportable. But when you are prideful, and say, ” I have a handsome horse,” know that you are proud of what is, in fact, only the good of the horse. What, then, is your own? Only your reaction to the appearances of things. Thus, when you behave conformably to nature in reaction to how things appear, you will be proud with reason; for you will take pride in some good of your own. Epictetus

Sorry, but no, you should not take praise in the Tacos picture.

This is why the ego is the enemy. The aim of the ego is validation, it does not concern with doing the work that will actually get him where it wants.

Facts are better than dreams said, Winston Churchill.

Because we will be action and education focused, and forgo validation and status, our ambition will not be grandiose but iterative—one foot in front of the other, learning and growing and putting in the time. Ryan Holiday

God, exactly. Instead of trying to prove you are smart or brave. Focus on being smart andwittgenstein1 L brave, this can be achieved by action and by learning. Instead of trying to prove something focus better on growing and becoming something. No time in your life must be regarded as “someday”. All you have is right now. Every tiny action is in fact monumental. Walk the talk, my friend.

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