The biggest lesson I learned in my 20's
Shaking dependency and finding freedom:
I was talking to an unlikely new friend yesterday about our common voluntary isolation and self reliance ... and it got me thinking... It's actually the biggest lesson I learned from my 20's...
Growing up I fell for what they told me. "Go to college, get good grades, get a good job, make lots of friends, move up the corporate ladder, fit in, keep your boss happy so you can depend on that steady paycheck". But it didn't make me happy. It made me feel trapped. And it definitely wasn't me.
Dependency is a habit that is so easy to acquire we don't even notice it. We live in a culture that offers you all kinds of crutches—experts to turn to, prescription drugs to cure any unease, mild pleasures to help pass or kill time or dull us from a reality we don't wanna face, the spouse that we make responsible for our happiness because we don't want that responsibility (outsource that shit too), jobs to keep you just above water.... The list is endless.
Ok. I admit. Its hard to resist. But once you give in, it is like a prison** you enter that you can't ever leave. You continually look outward for help and happiness and this severely limits your options and maneuverability. When the time comes, as it inevitably does, when you gotta make some important decision, you have nothing inside of yourself to depend on. Plus - if what or who you depend on is one day gone, you're left in shambles.
I realized (thankfully before it was too late) that u actually gotta move in the opposite direction. You cant get this requisite inner strength from a guru , pills of any kind or anything external. It can come only from you. It is a kind of exercise that you practice on a daily basis—weaning yourself from dependencies like fleeting pleasures or other people, listening less to others’ voices and more to your own, cultivating new skills, reading books, self improvement, findings mentors, noticing the small lessons in your day to day (you're prob overlooking lots of them), exchanging ideas w ppl you respect, and constantly honing your craft, whatever that happens to be.
You can't be taken in by the consumerism culture of ease or "quick fix". Some self-help programs, late night infomercials, and health / fitness "experts" will try to convince you that you can have what you want by following "a few simple steps". Things that come easy and fast will leave you just as fast.
The only way to gain self-reliance in any endeavor, whether it's dropping those extra pounds or making more cash etc, is through mad effort and practice. And this effort shouldn't be seen as something ugly, dreadful or dull; it is the process of gaining power over yourself that is the most satisfying of all, knowing that step-by-step you are elevating yourself above the dependent masses to your highest self.
It sucks at first because it takes a lot of discipline but eventually you find that self-reliance becomes the habit and that anything that smacks of depending on others will horrify you.
At 33 I'm still not 100% self reliant but every thing I do is done w that goal in mind ... and I'm getting closer each day.
Are you conscious of how dependent you are?
** Robert Greene, '50th Law' p.59-60