Coming to terms with our world

Recently I’ve just fin­ished the book The Path by Michael Puett, which gave me a lot to think about on life, its strug­gles, suc­cess and things I had dif­fi­cult times to understand.

In today’s soci­ety, we tend to con­form to a lot of labels. I went through a lot of them myself: HSP, intro­vert, INTJ, high IQ per­son, gay, at some point even bor­der­line and depres­sive (I’ll take the chance to talk about this more in-depth lat­er I think). We tend to con­form to those labels at some point. While they help us find­ing our place in our soci­ety and help us under­stand who we are, often they end up block­ing us or giv­ing false excus­es to some behav­iors we may adopt.

Discovering asian phi­los­o­phy through this book, I’ve come to under­stand how we’re for­ev­er a chang­ing per­son. Who I am can’t real­ly be defined by a label, espe­cial­ly because I tend to change from time to time, from the peo­ple I meet to the sit­u­a­tion I find myself in. I’ve always had trou­bles to under­stand how I could be so extro­vert in my work, being some­times quite assertive, while on oppo­site being so intro­vert when I was meet­ing anoth­er guy, hav­ing a lot of trou­bles to engage in a dis­cus­sion except in a one to one basis. Identifying myself as an intro­vert tend to make some of my best friends laugh quite a lot, them­selves labelling me « the most social intro­vert in the world ».

But we’re for­ev­er chang­ing, there’s no sta­ble self, just as our world is not coher­ent nor unchang­ing. We tend to make plans, pro­jec­tions, based on who we are at the moment and who we think we will be in the future. By doing so, we’re cut­ting our­selves from the com­plex­i­ties of live and the real messy world we live in.

And while some parts of those labels have a deep mean­ing for me (I’ll always exper­i­ment deep­er emo­tions than most of the oth­er human beings, my mind is also work­ing at a faster rate and behav­ing dif­fer­ent­ly, those are things that sup­pos­ed­ly will nev­er change), late­ly I’ve felt some oth­er labels block­ing me. As I’ve always defined myself as gay, late­ly I found myself hav­ing some real crush on some girls, which led to a real strug­gle in my mind. Those things may change, and I’ve come to accept myself as a « work in progress ».

Same goes for my line of work. Having worked for 8 years now, the job I’m doing now is total­ly dif­fer­ent from what I had in my mind when I fin­ished my degree in graph­ic design. But I changed, I made choic­es, I decid­ed to pro­gres­sive­ly change my career path depend­ing on what attract­ed me at the moment I was encoun­ter­ing them. And for this I’m so grate­ful we live in a world where there’s so much pos­si­bil­i­ties to devel­op our poten­tial. Too often I found peo­ple strug­gling with a diplo­ma that wasn’t right for them any­more, feel­ing stuck in their life. Nowadays you have the chance to change, you can bend your life and reori­ent your path. I deeply believe that each one of us has the pos­si­bil­i­ty to divert, to take anoth­er path at any­time. We’re only stuck in our minds.

Lately my life has dra­mat­i­cal­ly changed. This is some­thing I’ll take the time to reflect on by the end of the year, but those changes were fun­da­men­tal­ly nec­es­sary and even if some things aren’t yet per­fect (and some will nev­er be I guess), I final­ly feel at ease with the path I’m trav­el­ling on. After years of try­ing to under­stand the log­ic behind the world, behind human behav­ior, behind rela­tion­ships, I’ve final­ly accept­ed that our world and our­selves are not log­i­cal beings, as much as we’d like to be. We live in a messy and unpre­dictable world and while this might induce some fear, this also means that every­thing is pos­si­ble. So go, grow, take the path you want to take, and become the per­son you want to be. Because time is flow­ing by and this might be the only true thing we can get behind.

« You elim­i­nate your abil­i­ty to grow as a per­son because you are lim­it­ing that growth to what is in the best inter­ests of the per­son you hap­pen to be right now, and not the per­son you will become. » — Michael Puett, The Path

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Simon Vandereecken

Freelance UX Designer living in Brussels (Belgium), with a deep interest into philosophy, personal growth, self improvement, books, music, ... well in many things ! I use this website to write thoughts going through my head as well as ideas, observations and reading notes. Feel free to get in touch ;)