What is the attraction of other people’s stuff?
I get it into my head, taking their inventory and reaching grand and mighty decisions about their character and life path. I seek it out in my professional life, saying yes to all their projects, and their timelines, leading me away from my stuff. I worry so much about what other people think, or may think, I forget what I want, or what I need.
[quote float=”left”]Why would I fill my schedule with other people’s projects and neglect my own?[/quote] And that, I think, is what it’s all about: the attraction of other people’s stuff is … it gets me away from my stuff. In the case of my “crap” it’s easy to see why. Let’s talk about your faults, not mine! Keeps me safe and in control …. Even if sick and stressed out. What’s that they say about a resentment being where you take poison and expect the other person to get sick?
The other one is trickier to figure out. I have known, basically forever, that I am here to have adventures, then tell the stories. Lately I’ve thought of it as “Travel, Hike, Write.” I keep saying that to myself to remind myself that if it isn’t one of those three, I shouldn’t be doing it – not in my career, anyway.
So why, if I know why I’m here, would I go and get involved in other people’s stuff? I’m talking about helping somebody else build their business, finish some crazy project, or (worse) simply accept their invitation into their professional chaos? Why would I fill my schedule with other people’s projects and neglect my own?
Here’s a more insidious question: Why would I make up my list of projects based on what I think other people think I should do? Perfect example: I get an idea, an intuition, a business idea. Maybe it’s brilliant, maybe it needs some work, maybe it’s garbage. But I’ll never know if I run it past a few people, they express their doubts, then I take on those doubts, spin them into even greater doubts, and use them for self torture.
Do any of these sound familiar?
- “Who are you to try something like that?”
- “Somebody else is already doing it, and probably better.”
- “You’re just gonna screw it up, like you did with (whatever screw-up you abuse yourself with).”
- “Why don’t you just do something reasonable, like get a job, or help me with my stuff!”
At some point, as always, it comes down to this: Who are you, and why are you here? I was trained from an early age that I was here to replicate somebody else’s plans: get good grades so I could get into a good college so I could get a good job so I could make lots of money so I could buy the BMW and the big house, then get married to have kids and work all the time so I could send my kids through the same program. Yeah, it sounds boring and negative, but that’s how I perceived the message at the time. And what I said to it was, “Screw that!” I was a mediocre student at best, because I knew it didn’t matter, and have always valued time and freedom more than work and money.
But I also haven’t really separated myself from that training, nor stepped fully into my life path. A lot of folks might say otherwise, but all I can say is, “Wait ‘til I get going!” I’m barely into second gear here. For example, I have a great life right now, but do you think my life’s ambition is to write Portland guidebooks? I think not.
So why the distraction, into other people’s stuff? Why take on their doubts and make them my own? Pretty simple: Fear. It’s fear of failure, fear that I’ll find out they were right and I was wrong. Basically the bottom-line human fear, that life won’t work out for me and I’ll wind up sad and alone. And since this program that other people were offering me seemed to lead to safety and security, maybe I should just go with their plan.
But look at that decision this way: Isn’t “Maybe I should just go with their plan” another way of saying “Maybe I should just abandon what I know I’m here for”? What the hell kind of thinking is that? Are we here to fulfill somebody else’s purpose, or our own? To knock a bunch of tasks off the list, or build something? To follow others around until it’s time to go, or stomp the Earth?
I say stomp the Earth. And I’m starting to get better at living that way, too. Lately it’s meant dropping a lot of stuff – most of it other people’s stuff, but some of it my own distractions. And it’s about training my mind, and my brain, to be those of a successful person building his own something, worrying a lot less about what others might think and focusing more on what I’m here for.
Travel, Hike, Write. Have adventures, tell the stories. Invite people along, and see who wants to come. Be willing to leave people, and their stuff, behind.