When I was a wee young lad, I had a few extra pounds. I was very self-conscious of how I looked and how it affected my ability to do what I liked to do, in this case, play baseball. I was active, healthy, and happy, for the most part, but I lived with a constant sense of inadequacy and lack. I didn’t see myself as normal.
Over the years, I found ways to shed my weight slowly and healthily. I started going to the gym, became more aware of the impact of my choices, and improved my diet. However, the world and people around me were also finding ways to remind me that I still was not ‘normal’ and that something more needed to be done to reach that wholeness I desperately craved. The world was screaming at me that the answer lay outside, not inside.
This manifested in unhealthy choices and behaviors like unnecessary purchases, weird fashion choices, and many heartbreaks. I was frustrated, and I didn’t know where to put the blame but myself.
To this day, I still remember the anger and frustration of a young and inexperienced boy on a man’s body and with a man’s wallet, desperately trying to find the solution, the one thing out there that will fill the void and make me “normal.” At this point in life, the feeling of inadequacy was infiltrating into my professional life. Like an effective poison, this sense of inadequacy corrupted my self-esteem and ability to pursue my goals. I couldn’t see myself as a person who could attain success and respect while being broken and incomplete.
Conditioned to Crave
Unfortunately, this is the mentality that many of us have internalized and live with today. We have been cultured to believe that we are born incomplete and that the missing piece is out there. That is our mission to go out there, work our asses off doing things we hate to make money and then finally be able to afford that thing; That one elusive thing that makes us whole.
This missing piece, as I will call it from now on, is constantly dangling in our faces. Its usually marketed to us in ingenious ways to make us long for it. To remind us that we are not complete without it and to crave it intensely. Be it a car, house, job, lifestyle, whatever. The market is exceptionally adept at selling it and making you feel like you can get the life and success of your dreams if you just have enough dough. The life others seem to have, but you lack.
And so, after decades of conditioning and craving, what do we end up doing? Well, whatever we need to. We work hard, harder than we thought we could. We work harder than we should in the subconscious pursuit of wholeness.
Worse still, some among us will, once again, fall prey to the tricks of the market and be convinced that to get there, you just need to implement this one trick that only the one percent knows. They will point fingers at the hard workers and claim that their success is nothing but proof that only those who know the one hack, the secret of all secrets, can earn that position.
Hacking a Broken System
Many people nowadays only want to get rich by tricks and “hacking” the system. This is because they believe —or have been told— that getting rich quickly through schemes and hacks is what others have done. And if you don’t do it, well, others will.
This fallacy is generally promoted by people who don’t know what they are talking about or are interested in perpetuating that belief. Their interest is to influence you into making decisions with your finances, usually involving the particular “solution” they happen to sell.
This situation is especially aggravating, considering that the people most affected don’t know any better or are in a vulnerable position.
Behind the Tricks
Now, I’m going to be straight with you.
There is no such thing as a “trick,” “hack,” or “secret” to success. If anybody tells you that they want something from you or they are fooling themselves. Success, money, and happiness doesn’t lie behind a trick; it lies behind hard, steady, tedious, and sometimes painful work. It lies behind making good, healthy decisions consistently. It lies after a long ass journey of self-exploration, self-discovery, and a lot of failures.
Life is not about working against the system or even working for it. It’s about working despite of the system. The system is broken and skewed against most of us. We all know that —or at least most of us do. But that doesn’t mean that all is lost or that society should be brought down. It certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t thrive.
Working hard has meaning and value. Being honest and working on yourself is worth the time and effort.
Doing things that are difficult, uncomfortable, and new matters. It matters today and always will.
The Good Journey
Eventually, I found myself and learned that I was not incomplete or broken. Instead, I found what I was yearning for inside myself, among many things that also needed my attention. And so, I started my journey to tidy it up and fix the conditioning I have received for decades.
This journey, if you decide to embark on it, will require a lot from you. It will demand a lot of your free time and will be very zealous of your decisions. It will carefully examine what you offer to it and sometimes be capricious and give you something you don’t expect. But in the end, it will pay. And when it does, it pays with dividends —success, fulfillment, happiness.
Cover photo by Edge2Edge Media on Unsplash