The Compare Scare

In recent years there has been a movement called Minimalism, despite what seems to be ever growing amounts of consumption in the world. This philosophy has really resonated with me and I have been embracing it like nothing else. I am pretty ruthless when it comes to physical objects. Get rid, thats what I say.

Having run out of things to throw away (yes, really!) I started to take a closer look at my time and see what I could eliminate from that. Turns out, quite a lot, in fact. More than I thought because I often don’t pay attention well enough to what I’m apparently paying attention to. I love my learning which is a staple of every day, yet, I was still filling my time with nonsense. 

In the last two weeks I have really limited the usual suspects; television, movies and sport. I don’t typically watch much television with the exception of comedy panel shows. I don’t know why I have been so drawn to them. I would typically watch a few movies each week and would watch football at weekends.

It all adds up to quite a fair amount of time that could no doubt be better spent elsewhere. What I did notice when I reduced these forms of entertainment was that I was becoming drawn to political debate a lot more. Watching video after video on YouTube of left vs right drama. Again, not a clue why this has been doing it for me.

The excessive consumption of media, I think, has had a detrimental effect on me. I do think my intake of media has played a part in my anxiety. To what extent, I have no idea. Something has just dawned on me that made me think so, so I’m going with it. And it has to do with lifestyle. Or the perception of lifestyle maybe.

A lot of what we see in the media is people enjoying lavish lifestyles. From the TOWIE and Made In Chelsea shows, to professional footballers, to the music industry. And good luck to them. If the consumer wants to spend their money on consuming what these guys have to offer then that is their business and it is also the business of the celebrity how they spend their money.

What we’re getting now is a new breed of celebrity. An internet sensation that has their media go viral. Paving the way for anyone with an idea to making it into the big time. Again, good luck to them. Yet, this is probably where my trouble kicks in. I had often wanted some level of fame because I thought that approval would be attached in some way and I was attaching my self worth to it.

The main point I’m getting at is that I thought that all I’d need is an idea and then I could start pumping stuff out, get some fame, get some riches and enjoy the last 70 years of my life in a state of perpetual bliss. Sounds pretty straight forward right? To compound the agony that resulted from my shortcomings was that I was convinced that everyone could achieve the same.

I am a huge proponent of human potential. We go no where near what we are capable of as far as I am concerned. However, without self awareness then, like me, you’ll likely fall flat on your face. So having found myself a lot further along my own journey to self awareness, I realise where I may have been going wrong.

What I am interested in is education more so than entertainment. It certainly wouldn’t be a balanced ratio at least. As I am developing more of a ‘realistic’ outlook on life, let’s say, chances are that were I to make a YouTube channel that was educational, I’m pretty sure that it wouldn’t fetch millions of subscribers and make me millions of pounds. At least not immediately anyway.

The interests I have are only going to be shared with a very small minority of the world’s population. Therefore, my plan to make a shed load of cash in a short amount of time, in the not to distant future is nothing more than a fantasy. Having had this dawn on me is actually somewhat of a relief. I was expecting myself to be the super successful king pin even though I have nothing to offer to the mass market.

Having this fantasy rolling around my mind was making me beat myself up for not having achieved it already. Feeling like I wasn’t good enough and not being able to figure out why. Well now I feel more content with the idea that I will most likely make my fortune over a more realistic time frame as a result of accumulation and intelligent investing. And I think I am actually ok with that.

As part of my investigation into how I spend my time I have been automating certain things in order to be more organised. For example, I use Saturday mornings to do my washing and I have started to streamline my food prep a little more. It has made me realise just how simple a lot of things are and can be done within a relatively short time frame. This means I can dedicate more time to my work and studies without feeling overwhelmed.

I have flirted with a few ideas relating to my work and I know that what I want to do is teach in some capacity. I have yet to decide what exactly I want to teach and how I want to teach, such as school, higher education, my own business etc. The great thing is that when I do decide, I am better equipped to go all in and really use it as an opportunity to grow and develop myself by inspiring the class to do the same.

Teaching may not make the millions overnight that some young hipster might make from a vlog and that’s ok. I’m a good money manager and I’ll read every wealth book on the planet before I die, no doubt, so I’ll make my money as I go through life. As a millennial, I feel we are hard wired to want to make an impact in some way. I would argue that a lot of meaning has been lost since generations gone by.

Things are easier to come by these days. Even the lifestyle can be funded through debt for those that aren’t world famous celebrities. What was once difficult to obtain isn’t so much anymore. Now we’re left to make use of our time and therefore we, as millennials, feel compelled, in a lot of cases, to find our meaning in making an impact. That’s how I see it, at least.

I felt so reluctant to apply patience to my life because I wanted to make some kind of impact and thought I would have done by now. An impact that would make me sought after and propel me to expert status. That is fairly difficult to achieve by 32 and of course I berated myself very much so for not being who I thought I was supposed to be.

All the while I have felt like I should be that person, I have been living in the future. I have been stealing away the present moment by using it to look so far ahead. It was those ‘what-if’ statements that were consuming all my attention again. I was so afraid of not being able to survive later on down the line if I didn’t make it now.

It is exhausting. It really is. Thinking you should have achieved something by now and not only not having done so but also not having a clue why is really demoralising. Now I know that it is because I am not meant to yet. If I want to dedicate my life to education in some capacity then I have a responsibility to provide high quality teaching. That takes time, vast knowledge and experience. Who am I think that I can just turn up and do that right away and expect to be rewarded with riches?

Cutting back on all forms of media is quite liberating to a degree. I would certainly need a longer hiatus to really notice the full effects, especially once I have eliminated my fixation on political debate. Having said that, I have noticed somewhat of a clearer mind in this short space of time. I feel as though I am taking greater responsibility in my own thinking and taking more control over my mind in general.

Well I started this post by talking about minimalism. Minimalism for me has been very freeing, mentally. By reducing items in my physical world I have noticed more space in my mental world. It even gave me the opportunity to explore my mental world on a much deeper level than what I felt I was previously able to access.

I wanted to de-clutter my mind and that meant throwing away old beliefs that no longer provided me with any value. We may well have done that today by identifying the need for comparison as a default setting. I’ve heard it said that comparison is the thief of joy. I feel as though patience could very well be the antidote in my case.

So having said that, while I am applying patience to my life, perhaps I’ll give myself permission to enjoy the process along the way.

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