Too often we consider the hardships of our lives to be the trials we endure. Trials, however, are relative to our perception of what our true goals are in life. In our aspirations to be successful, or more accurately as is true in most cases, to be perceived as successful by others, it’s easy to be distracted into believing that that perception is in fact the goal. If the higher priority is how I’m perceived, and the lesser priority is what convictions I am loyal to, it stands to reason that I will lose sight of my convictions and find myself to be unfulfilled when the taste of success brushes my palate.
I struggle to speak plainly these days. I think this struggle is related to the audience that I have become aware of. I miss the days when I was able to quietly contemplate the fascination of life without a need to articulate, share it, or worse still, get affirmation for it. The more I exposed my thoughts and philosophies to others, the more I attracted like-minded individuals into my space. At first this offered comfort given my need to be sane. Sanity, for me, was determined by whether or not the logic in my head was relatable to the people that I perceived as having normal and clutter-free lives. Little did I know it was all a mirage.
I once read that if everyone were to throw their problems into a pile for everyone else to see, we’d all reach in to take our own problems back, because the problems of others will seem that much more daunting. Perception is probably the true currency of human engagement. We polarise towards that which appears to reflect our struggles or aspirations, assuming that our perception of the same defines its purity as well. These are the mirages we create for ourselves, especially when we’re so outwardly focused that we forget the ‘why’ that exists internally only.
It is the same ‘why’ that is lost when we find success in a public setting. Setting out to change the world is a goal we set when we’re not popular because that isolation often gives us a raw view of everything we think is wrong with the world. That perception changes as we begin to access the niceties. The trinkets that feed the ego and extend our spheres of influence, leading us to believe that changing the world is suddenly possible, and not just an angst-driven dream of a teenager. But soon after this realisation dawns the realisation that in order to continue influencing, we need to remain relevant. Unfortunately, that relevance was spawned from the success we enjoyed when our isolated thoughts became mainstream to those around us. That is the fork in the road right there.
The struggle that I struggle to articulate this morning is that remaining focused on the change I hoped to inspire in the world becomes increasingly difficult as the popularity and its fruit grows. Suddenly I find myself distracted by the subconscious desires I held as a child when I saw the popular kids being smothered with attention and acceptance while I remained the odd one on the outside of the circle peering in. The thirst that went unquenched for so long is suddenly blinding in its fulfillment. It’s akin to that moment when breaking fast on a hot day and taking that first sip of ice cold water. The struggle of the entire day of going without food or water instantly dissipates and is quickly replaced by the intense satisfaction of being able to trace every droplet of relief as it ran through my body fulfilling a need that is so base in its nature, that no amount of success or attention could surpass it at that moment.
Sad then to note that the innate desires that went unfulfilled can so easily overtake lifelong convictions in a moment of acceptance. Acceptance by the same groups that we once saw as part of the problem. The attention whoring that goes with success is ironical. It’s the rise to fame that in fact becomes our fall from grace. But it’s a fall that only we can recognise internally, but rarely do we allow it to be on show externally.
I suspect that I have said much without saying anything at all. The struggle to articulate becomes stronger as I find my philosophies embraced. The need to recede echoes louder than ever. I must withdraw from the charade before I become one with the mirage. If this is the angst I feel with such a small dose of popularity, how much more vacuous must be the existence of those that actively court such popularity instead?