I think it was when I decided on what i was going to do, I tended to disregard other factors in life. I mean everyone does it, right? But like the title of this article, I don’t think anyone really knows what they’re writing about and I think most have been in a similar situation.
I remember when I was beginning my History Bachelors degree at Goldsmiths college that I had a clear vision of what I wanted to do: I wanted to be a history lecturer, a great like Plato or Alexander of Macedon and lead the world. There was a feeling of clarity and the assumption I knew everything. Like many people, I had a dream and a clear impetus of what I wanted to do. People around me would feel the same as well.
But moving on 4 years later, I am doing my masters and I have come to realize many things. The first is by far is that dreams don’t go the way they do, neither do aspirations. When you have a sense of clarity at a young age, you get a mild superiority complex with a facade there’s no ego but really the ego is huge. You think you can overcome what others can’t, but it puts you in disappointment when you can’t or when things change. Yes, when I began I thought I was going to be like those great people. But what you find is you can’t, no matter how much you try and there’s nothing wrong with that. One thing I have learned is that there is nothing wrong with failure: you will fail in life and it will hit hard. It will make things feel distressing at times and sometimes watching T.V. and eating something edible seems like the only solution. But dreams change and they always do. How many of us when we were young, if we pursued our dreams now, would want to be princesses or astronauts?
Neither is there winning. When I ended my bachelors, I had a specific vision: I was going to be in a minimalist one bedroom apartment, with nothing but my laptop, a job and be one with peace while stroking my beard. I also dreamed I would be in the same position, superior in a weird way to others. I don’t think anything could be further from the truth. I’m a young, clean cut, male who’s got a part time job at a department store, doing my masters and still living with family and the crazy thing is I am unsure of what I want to do; and that’s not a bad thing either.
Just like many people, we follow dreams and aspire to be like people. But what if the dream is stupid? Many of us emulate and want to be the older people who runs the show, the one person who you wanted to be, you aspired to and you think being that person will define you as successful. But what you find as you branch out, your quirks and mannerisms pull you in a different direction. And that failure will make you the best person. It reinvents you. As you fail, whether or not you’re afraid, disappointment will come; the beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity and with clarity comes true conviction and originality (though don’t fail).
The most cliche thing to say is ‘follow your dream’, but I will tell you now your dream will change and that’s okay. More importantly if you do get your dream, you are not a winner.
And like the quirks and mannerism, there are inefficiencies. I m not perfect in any way (whatever that is) and I’m not sure if I have understanding other people pinned down. It seems to me like a giant spiritual process and life is ‘that’ and I am linked with it: it feels like an open-world canvas that’s some-what blank but at the same time full. But those will help when I fail and redefine myself; just as a job or occupation or title doesn’t defy me.
I think when I was in Kenya when I was 16 and I had volunteered with colleagues to help children, I spend the duration of two weeks doing so. However, when I was in the bus going back to the airport, did the somewhat 2 weeks worth of effort seem trivial; the explanation of what I had done seemed unexplainable as I tried to explain my experiences to others in London. This resembles that what I am trying to explain (in the form of my past self), to people. But I knew if I were to tell myself what will happen, they probably would not believe me. Just like that, I am going to try and explain advice that seems almost impossible to you who will probably not listen to what I have to say anyway.
One thing I learned in the wide world is that you are not the most important person on the scene, everyone else is. If everyone else is, you will serve them. But the good news is you’re in the scene too so hopefully people will serve you. No one is winning: you’re following the follower, serving the servant. Life is an improvisation: you have no idea what’s going to happen next and you are just making things up as you go along. And like improv you cannot win at life, even if it may look like you are winning. I am surrounded by talented people who I hope will serve me. But at my best I am serving them just as hard, and together we serve a common idea.
But if we should serve others, and together serve some common goal, what is the idea? and who are those people? In my experience you will only serve what you love because service is love made visible.
If you love friends, you will serve your friends.
If you love community, you will serve your community.
If you love money, you will serve your money.
And if you love only yourself, you will serve only yourself and you will have only yourself.
So no more winning. Instead, try to love others and serve others and hopefully find those who love and serve you in return.