The path less travelled

In life we as human beings are inclined to seek success, to achieve and to strive. How one goes about attaining success is entirely up to that individual and therefore can differ greatly from person to person. Some people choose to follow a paint by numbers approach to success and try to follow in the footsteps of those whom they deem to be successful, which is perfectly normal. Myself, on the opposite spectrum, grew up constantly being told to try act and think differently, to see the world in a different way and choose my own path. My younger self, stars in his eyes and wind behind his sails, took to this advice like a fish to water. Up to this day I am still always trying to do things differently, to try be unique and to build my own road to success. The one thing that I still haven’t quite come to grips with is what it actually means to be unique or to act and think differently. What is deemed different to one person can be entirely normal to another.

Here I want to present you with the ‘Evening lunch’ scenario. I would like to introduce Tim. Tim eats lunch at 4 pm everyday. Tim’s friend Paul thinks that this is a very unusual time to partake in the eating of lunch. However, Tim’s other friend Bob thinks that in order for a meal to constitute being called lunch it needs to be eaten before 1 pm. From Paul’s point of view Tim could be considered ‘unique’. On the other hand, from Bob’s point of view Tim is simply eating supper at a normal time while trying to pass it off as lunch. If anything, from Bob’s point of view Tim is just a normal person but with perhaps a slight misunderstanding of basic meal terminology. In this scenario is Tim actually unique in his approach to eating lunch?

The conclusion I have come to is that whether Tim is unique or not comes solely down to Tim himself. If Tim considers himself to be unique, then he is unique and the same in vice-versa.  Therefore, from my point of view it would seem that in order to qualify  being ‘unique’ the only person you need to convince is yourself. To answer my own question from earlier, what it means to be unique or different could also be entirely up to the individual. Which just means you have to face the uneasy challenge of convincing yourself that you are actually unique or different.  Now, you may be thinking why is being unique so important to me?  Apart from my upbringing, the main reasons are that  I can’t, not even for a second, imagine myself doing the same thing as every-else. More than anything though, I really lack the competitive edge needed to be successful through conventional means. Which is why I stray from anything conventional. I aim to walk the path no one else has walked because then I am less likely to encounter anyone else on that path, effectively cutting down my competition to just myself.

Basically,  I am always trying to do things differently because I’m too lazy to bother competing with people who spend every waking minute trying to pursue success. In all honesty I’m just not that committed. In this sense, by eliminating all other competition except myself, I make it so the only person I can lose to is myself. Because I am the only competition I can set the benchmark of how much effort needs to be put in to succeed. I know exactly how much I need to do to achieve and I never do more than that. One reason I don’t like competition is that they tend to set the benchmark a lot higher than it needs to be.

For example, say you are wanting to get into cooking school. To pass the entrance exam you are given the task of making toast. In this situation I would just make the toast and leave it at that.  My competition Bob makes his toast but decides to add bacon, egg and a generous dollop of hollandaise sauce. Due to Bob’s unnecessary effort, the entrance exam is changed so that you now have to make eggs Benedict to pass even though the cooking school itself isn’t any more difficult or require any-more knowledge or skill. I’m all for making things difficult or require more effort when the end goal demands a high level of skill and effort, for example becoming a doctor. But it just annoys me when the amount of effort or skill level required isn’t matched by the end result. The best example I can give of this is trying to apply to work at MacDonald’s back in my home town in New Zealand. The number of young students trying to get part time work is so high that the requirement to actually get a job at a place like MacDonald’s is ridiculous, when in reality pretty much anyone could successfully work there. Of-course, this is simply what happens when you have competition, but if I have the choice I would rather not get stuck in that kind of system.

For this reason, I am always aiming to make sure no one has previously tried to do what I am currently doing. The second I think that I may be walking down a path someone has already taken, I instantly start walking off-road until the previous path is completely out of sight along with any uninvited competition. Of-course this means that the path I take is generally 10 times longer, filled with tight corners, and just overall very unpredictable and indecisive. For comparison, a soccer player wanting to become a professional generally has a specific path they need to take with a definite outcome if they succeed. Of-course, an individual can take any path they want and still become a professional but you are more likely to succeed if you choose the path that’s already been proven to lead to success. Currently, I’m still very uncertain where this path of mine is heading. Every so often I get a glimpse of the end destination, but unfortunately more often that not these are just a mirage. Recently, I gained another glimpse of what might be waiting for me at the end, and it’s actually looking better than I had imagined. Now I just have to hope that until I reach that destination I don’t find any footprints on my path,  otherwise who knows in what direction I’ll be heading next.

As always, thanks for reading.

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