Finding Comfort in Anxiety
With a myriad of inputs about what you should be doing and not many inputs concerning why you should be doing it, it can be difficult to develop a true purpose behind why you do what you do.
The good news is that you can trade all of those difficult thoughts in for a simple solution. All you have to do is the following: get good grades, go to a prestigious college, find a stable job, work, retire, and die. A simple six-step solution to live an anxiety-free life.
This flow is tempting. There is no uncertainty. If someone questions why you did what you did, you can always point to everyone telling you to do it. You can’t be held accountable. You have seen everyone else do it, so why can’t you do it, too? You don’t have to question your path. You don’t have to overthink things. However, by following this path without asking if you really want to follow this path, you give up your life to those in power.
You choose to become a cog in the system and place your identity in the hands of your overseers.
Change and connection are not created by the six-step pursuit. Change and connection are created through risk-taking. They are created through finding comfort in anxiety. They are created by jumping into the void and working hard for the best.
500 years ago, Montaigne warned us about falling victim to the charms of societal approval: “When any good things happen to come to us from outside… we must not let them become our principal base, for they are no such thing; neither reason nor Nature will have them so. Why do we go against Nature’s laws and make our happiness a slave in the power of others?” We so often opt for the approval of those around us by giving up our lives to the six-step life.
However, with this decision, you relinquish control of your happiness. You let others decide who you are. You are no longer you. That is not to say that everyone who follows the steps gave up their identity. It is to say, however, that many of us, who are inspired to create art, are forced into this path and give up our happiness to the system designed to keep those in power on the top.
On Solitude. Michel De Montaigne. Translated by M. A. Screech. Penguin Books.