“Remember to always be yourself. Unless you suck.”
– Joss Whedon
I could sit here and tell you to “always be yourself,” but that would be terrible advice. When you don’t innovate your personality, you stagnate. You wake up one morning and realize that you’re a 500 pound virgin whose sole accomplishment in life was playing a ton of Nintendo.
When I wrote yesterday’s post I only included half the story. Before ever picking up a philosophy book or bag of juicing carrots, I had been the definition of average. I wasn’t some weird Dungeons & Dragons guy, but I was socially awkward. I wasn’t morbidly obese, but I was flabby and looked really gross without my shirt on. I wasn’t a do nothing, but I was incredibly lazy and would only put in a minimal effort. You get the idea.
All these little things bothered me, always lurking in the back of my mind. One day I snapped. Nothing out of the ordinary had happened to me, and that’s what triggered it. The actual event occurred while I was eating a ham sandwich in my car. I looked around, it was snowing outside and the landscape looked bleak. I thought to myself “I hate my life.” Until that point, I had always been fine with “being myself,” now I wanted better.
When I got home I did three things: I looked up passport requirements, bought a book on picking up women (for scientific reasons only), and watched some YouTube videos on exercise. Before going to bed that night, I wrote the following on an index card:
“I want to spend New Year’s in Brazil. To make the most of my trip I am going to save money, work out, learn some Portuguese, and become a more interesting guy.”
I spent the next several weeks secretly scheming about how I would achieve my goal. I started to read books and blogs about saving money, nutrition, and Brazilian society. I also started practicing everything I read. For the first time ever, I was imitating someone else. It was great.
As time progressed, I started to acquire more traits from others. I learned how to negotiate, since my parents didn’t want me to leave the country, and how to make compromises. Eventually I managed to talk them out of not letting me go anywhere, and parlayed into being allowed to travel to another English speaking country.
By checking my ego and deciding that “being me” sucked, I ended up having one of the best times of my life. Not only did I have fun, but I had also begun to cultivate a winner’s mentality. Planning that trip was the first major goal I ever set, and it taught me the value of working hard and stepping outside your comfort zone.