Recently I came across one of Ramit Sethi’s nugget of wisdom:
The world wants you to be vanilla, people will always push you to look and act the same way as everyone else. Ramit Sethi
What does that even mean? I asked myself.
Why would anyone want you to look and act the same way as everyone else?
Isn’t variety the spice of life? Doesn’t the strength of a team lie in the different personalities and perspective?
Yes and yes but that doesn’t mean that people like it.
Actually it makes them uncomfortable. People don’t know how to deal with different, with out-of-the-ordinary.
After mulling over it for a while, I came up with 3 reasons why that could be.
1. You bring out their own insecurities
Lately, you decided to clean up your diet, eating mostly salads and bringing your green juice into the office. You feel great, your energy is through the roof and you’ve shed some kilos.
Instead of receiving kind comments, you get curious looks and comments like: ‘Why are you doing this to yourself? Here, have a cookie’. ‘Are you going to drink that WHOLE jar of green juice, really?’ ‘Aren’t you tired of eating salads? Don’t you miss real food?
What if you decide to quit your 9-5 and start your own business? You’ll get this kind of comments: ‘What if you fail? Most startups don’t make it past the second year’ ‘There are too many people doing just that, probably not a good idea..” ‘You’ll work day and night, do you really think you’re cut out for that?’
Why can’t people just be happy for you and supportive instead?
Because you bring out their own insecurities. You act as a mirror to their own failure to thrive and succeed.
When others show up looking good, happy, healthy, it reminds us what we don’t want to be reminded of.
That we are not making progress with our own lives.
- We know that we should clean up our diet too, we just haven’t found the strength to do it.
- We would love to quit our 9-5 and work from the comfort of our home doing something we love, but we don’t have a clue what to do.
2. They can’t relate to you
Part of my family doesn’t understand what I do. However much I try to explain, working online is just too abstract for them to get.
They can’t fathom how I could make a living doing what I do.
They don’t understand why I would even want to.
After all, I have a good degree and years of experience in big firms. I could probably find another “stable” job with a decent income.
I just don’t want to.
So why is it hard to understand?
Because it’s hard to relate to something that is so far out from what you grew up knowing as “THE NORM”.
Our brains are wired to love what’s familiar to keep us safe from danger.
And let’s face it.
In this case, the technological gap between our generation and our parents’ is colossal.
- They had black and white TV (if they were lucky). We have Netflix.
- They had a barely-functioning landline. We have 4G.
- They had hold-on-to-your-job-for-life-and-never-let-go. We have options.
And while we chase freedom and meaning, they would much prefer if we ‘got a good degree, a stable job and work at it for the next 40 years’.
The point that I want to make is that when you have lived 60 years with a certain set of values and beliefs, it’s hard to understand anything that’s not in line with those.
3. They don’t do well with change
The way we view the world is changing.
What seemed to be “the norm” and what you thought to be true yesterday no longer holds today.
It’s what we call a Paradigm Shift.
Some years ago, sacrificing your personal life to be successful at work was considered the norm. And so was indulging in a diet of meat, processed foods and alcohol.
But our view on what it means to live a “rich” life is shifting.
Today, we crave a return to simpler things such as:
- Real food
- Authentic relationships
- A sense of community
The problem here?
Some have a hard time integrating and accepting shifting collective paradigms.
Take the “work” paradigm for example.
We went from “I live to work” to “I work to live”, from “I work hard” to “I work smart”, from “I’m-stuck-behind-a-cubicle-all-day” to “I-can-work-from-home” in just a few short years.
And while some have embraced this new reality, others are in denial, too slow to catch on and feeling out of place in this “new era”.
We are surrounded by skeptics and critics who often unknowingly deter us from thriving. Whether you try and reach higher or aim for an out-of-the-norm life, some people are uncomfortable with anything that’s different. It might be because, by taking action, you make them feel like they are not enough, like they should do more. Or it could be because you’ve embraced a way of life that they don’t understand or that they are not accepting yet.
Whatever it is, do NOT let them alter your journey. Follow your own rules, be unique and unapologetically yourself!