“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”– Howard Thurman (Source: The Living Wisdom of Howard Thurman: A Visionary for Our Time)
I know what you’re thinking.
You’re thinking, ‘what do you mean the ONLY THING the world needs from me?! The world demands EVERYTHING from me!!!’
‘It expects me to be a teetotaling, super-ripped, enlightened, buddhist monk who lives in a mansion with 5 cars yet gives everything to the poor, can speak 6 languages, hold 3 full-time jobs with an additional 8 hobbies on the side while also caring for the elderly with the abundance of spare time one must have available.’
‘On top of which I must also find a cure for cancer, prevent global warming, travel the entire world, read 8 books a day, find the time to study for a 4th profession, have the perfect life partner, raise straight A children who never fart in public, cook the recommended 12 meals a day, eat only the finest imported wagyu beef, be a vegan, own the latest model of smartphone while also find a suitable replacement for plastics.’
‘Should I go on?!!!’
You could but I think we get the point.
Yes, unfortunately, this is but a modicum of what our fucked up society expects. That said, this is exactly why we need to be very clear.
What the world needs from you and what society expects are two very different things.
One you need to trust in. The other you need tell fuck off!
Society’s ridiculous expectations have flooded our brains with too much information. We’re constantly being pulled in a million different directions that’s left us paralysed in one. We can’t see through the sea of bullshit to understand what we’re supposed to do. We’re lost wondering which way we should paddle with no land in sight.
The problem isn’t what society thinks, of course. The major problem we have is making society’s expectations our own. In doing so we play a game we can’t possibly win. As a result of not being able to meet these impossible expectations – because none of us can – many of us simply give up.
What we need to do is set ourselves free. We need to cut through the noise and focus on our major purpose in life. We need to follow our calling. Then say ‘fuck it’ to the rest. I truly believe this will benefit the world far more than trying to meet society’s expectations. That’s provided you can shift through all the bullshit and follow what your calling in life actually is. As in, not society’s. Not your parent’s. Not Barrack Obama’s. Certainly not Donald Trump’s. Yours! Your own unique calling.
This is the only thing the world needs from you.
I think that you know this of course, the question is how?! And also what the fuck?
I’m not going to pretend I have all the answers but I’ll give you a few more thoughts you should probably ignore.
Fuck what society has to say about who it thinks you should be.
You and only you get to decide what success looks like. Don’t let society do that for you. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your life has to look good on paper, so some top level exec can commend you on your perfect CV to only then give the job to the slightly less qualified white man because you’re black, or a woman, or a black woman…
To be clear I’m not saying give up. To not be a better person. To not go after what you want despite any disadvantages you may or may not have.
What I’m saying is to be clear about what success actually means to you, to be clear about what you actually want. Don’t go chasing someone else’s goals. If you want to wander the seven seas as a pirate – if that’s what makes you feel alive – then who the fuck am I, or anyone else for that matter, to judge you? At least if you fail as a pirate (highly probable) you’ll have loved life.
We spend far too much time thinking about how our life choices will be viewed by others. We need to wake up and follow what we know in our hearts will make us happy.
A stressful life chasing other people’s version of success is what has turned us all into robots. We’re simply going through the motions so we can reach our end goal. We say to ourselves, it’ll all be worth it after I have secured financial independence for the last 10 good years of my life. After I have broken my body, sold my soul and lost all sense of aliveness in the mean time.
Is your retirement really worth that much? To slave away so that one day you might get to live in the knowledge that money is no longer a problem for you, for the last 10 years of your life?
Let me tell you something that society doesn’t want you to work out. Money is but one problem.
When Jay-Z rapped about 99 problems I suspect they were all related to having money. Bitches weren’t one of them admittedly, because of the money, but even so. The point is be careful what you chase after in life.
The world really doesn’t need you to be rich and famous. It doesn’t need you to solve all its problems. Society has made this an obsession of yours but it’s bullshit.
The only thing the world needs from you is to come alive. That comes from chasing the dreams that you alone have defined. It comes from following your heart.
I’ve got a new rap song. It goes, I’ve got 99 problems but the dream ain’t one. (How white am I?) If you can sing that you’re winning my friend because you’ll always have 99 problems. Don’t make not following your dreams one of them.
Thanks for reading everyone! I’m acutely aware that talking about chasing your dreams can come across as somewhat rich (pun intended) as a privileged middle class white man, especially when survival is the only thing that millions can ever consider, but I also wonder if, for the same reason, I don’t have a responsibility to chase my dreams? After all, my worst case scenario is far better than most. What do you think? Is the idea of following your dreams overrated? Is it not better to follow our heart if we have the choice? Thoughts and comments very welcome below.
You can see find more of AP2’s nonsensical world views and poor self-help advice here at: https://pointlessoverthinking.com