There is a conceptual delight to the idea of a robot. A continuously productive machine with no gross emotions or feelings or biases is a wonderful thing. However, strange as it is, we are not machines. We need constant recharging, for hours and hours at a time. Even at our height, we are still not as efficient and effective as machines. We are volatile, events can harm us without direct physical contact. Humans are just so problematic compared to machines!
And yet! Being human is such a unique experience because we are aware that we are. We might not be as productive as machines, but what basis is there to assume our productivity equates to our worth? In some settings, we may begin to feel like that’s the case. However, there is more to us than that! We are creative and adapative. We can think outside the box, and use our associations to connect ideas. We can make wonderful things like machines in the first place, and emotionally connect to other people! Even we aren’t sure ourselves how we can do all of these things. It is something special to be a human.
While we love to connect to other people, part of being a social creature means we become jealous at times. We begin to compare oursleves to other people, and it goes downhill very quickly! But like machines and humans, part of being distinct entities requires there to be differences between them. Because you are an individual, you are different from those around you. Because we are varied in style, shape, and character, there are going to be differences in what we are good at and what we struggle with! You are not a machine, and that’s a good thing because you can do so much more than you are programmed for! You are also a “you”, and that means you are also able to bring something beautifully distinct to everything you do.
Life is similar to video game in that we’re sort of dropped here with a certain level HP and we need to find the quest. However, one of the basic lessons of gaming that even I, someone not highly qualified in that area know, is that a lot of story games involve talking to the characters. In order to learn anything or progress in the game, you need to talk to random people and get a grasp of the situation. While most humans don’t repeat a single line over and over again, its surprisingly relatable to our own lives: We need to talk to gain information about the setting we find ourselves in.
We need to get some information about the world we are in, the situation we are in. We miss plenty of opportunities simply because we don’t realize they are there! So search them out! Talk to people around you and learn about what you can do to help them. Learn about them and more importantly, learn from them. You won’t garner a fishing pole from every conversation, but you never know what you can learn from someone that might help you out later on down the road. However, more than that, we can learn about ourselves too.
There are some people in this world who naturally think of other people. They give to others and have to learn with time how to not be taken advantage of. There are also people who are given to thinking about themselves. They tend to be driven but they can run other people other and make themselves miserable in that way. Each of these inclinations can go awry, one isn’t better than other. Rather, it is simply a part of us that we need to tame. For some people, that means prioritizing self care more. For others, it means working to bring the focus off yourself.
But if you don’t try to learn, you can’t get anywhere! We need to talk to people, assess the situation, find out what problems we can help fix! But we also need to evaluate ourselves. You’re player one in your own life after all.
Growth isn’t easy. It’s like pulling a stubborn donkey along in a crowded city. You keep trying to take the next step but you’re held back by this braying obnoxious creature and everyone is staring at you. The identity of that obnoxious creature changes with one’s mood; first it’s self doubt, then it’s fear, then it’s the opinions of others. And often we want to give in, and let the donkey go where it wants to and just follow behind it. But we shouldn’t!
Growth is hard because you can work super hard and still not see any change. You can do all the right things and wait and wait and it still doesn’t seem to be getting better! You can study for the test and still fail. You can work out and still gain fat. You can try to be kind and still catch yourself saying something cruel. But when you get stuck in those situations, you have two choices: stop trying or figure out a new strategy. And that is very much a choice, to stop. You could absolutely give up, it’s your life and prerogative. The question you have to ask yourself, however, is if your goals mean that little to you. If you’ve been struggling, there is something you’ve been struggling for. If you never work through the pain, you’ll never get to those big dreams.
The second option is to try a new strategy! If the first way doesn’t work, try again, but differently! Research some tips. See what other people have done. Ask for advice! You don’t have to struggle alone. Growth is definitely hard, but it is not impossible.
Every day is a gift, but since you get a gift every day, how valuable is it really? That is what’s tempting to think. Some people claim every day needs to be amazing and full! But most likely, it’s not. Most of the time, days are just days. They can be good or bad, but usually they just “are”.
However, the difference in people who live their lives and people who simply let life pass them by, is the difference in how they address the problem of ordinary days. Anyone can hype themselves up the day they graduate or give an important speech. How will you motivate yourself when it’s just another day following your same routine, and not an Indiana Jones adventure? You find a reason to wake up. You find a reason to go to the gym. You find a reason to work through the projects you don’t want to do. If you don’t know where you’re going, it’s going to be hard to get somewhere!
So as hackneyed as it may seem, write down your goals physically. Paste it on a wall, on multiple walls! Sure, the gift of the regular day isn’t unusual. However, the point is that you don’t know what it will bring. Maybe it’s not an amazing gift, but you get the chance to make it into something more. Not every day has to be stunning or amazing or marvelous! But making the choice to follow a higher goal makes a day more likely to be something special.
As much disdain and gruesome sneers result from the phrase, “Hallmark Movies”, there’s a distinct flavor to them. Along with cheesy phrases, cliques, and even cheesier movies, there is a part of us that loves all the hackneyed things of this world. Humans like to feel good. It’s why we eat lots of junk food and ignore our obligations! Because it’s nice to not feel uncomfortable! Cheesy movies make us feel good because they tend to wrap things up well. Instead of having to deal with the awkward, hard realities of relationships, we get to experience a story where there is most definitely a message, point, and happy ending.
There’s a temptation to think we somehow deserve a Hallmark movie life. Or rather, that we deserve some story with a nice character arc and, though there is conflict and adventure, there is faith that the ending is going to come safely and with a beautiful reward. Instead, there are ugly things around us. There is unkindness and gross behaviors and things show up. Not only is the storyline ambiguous, but the characters usually aren’t inspirational, and the words stumble around a lot more. Things don’t end neatly, and sometimes the growth we expect doesn’t happen like we want it to.
It’s good to enjoy good things! Sometimes we need dramatic, over-emotional, neat little stories to entertain us! It’s a nice treat and helps us focus on brighter thoughts. It can help hone us on an end goal and encourage us that our conflicts can be overcome! However, we shouldn’t dwell too much on perfect little worlds, because it’ll just make us all the more sad when we re-realize how unperfected our own is. The point is, we need to be active players in our own book. If we grow in expected ways, it’s not really growth, just an exercise in will. It’s easy to say conflict is necessary, but it’s much harder to believe it. So don’t try to force yourself into being some positive train, pummeling through life with all the answers! It’s okay that things are hard. It’s okay if things aren’t good right now. Just keep going anyways.