The Biggest Barrier Towards Fulfillment — And How To Overcome It
Hard to translate into words, however, for the mast part, a destination we are all trying to reach.
For how much the temptation for a life of comfort and care-freeness, there seems to always be the internal pull towards something more.
Personally, I strongly believe this to be achieved when striving for a goal we deem worthy.
As Albert Camus put it:
The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.
The big problem with this, and the reason why so many of us are miserably pushing our “boulder”, one that I felt in the past, is because the choice of the burden didn’t seem like ours. Sure, you graduated, went to the job interview, and are now pursuing a career in that field… But is that what you truly wanted?
If I took you back to high-school, would you have taken the same path again?
Without having to hear every individual answer, unfortunately, from my experience talking with those of you that reach out, the answer tends to be no.
Maybe you would have taken some time to think about it, to travel, to experience other pursuits, to take a bigger risk, in a way, to listen to what that little voice inside your head is calling to.
You know the one I’m talking about, that one which can be felt in your gut, the one which, as I've experienced it, tends to be hard to follow but right on the money if you do.
Why don’t we follow it?
“The tranquility that comes when you stop caring what they say. Or think, or do. Only what you do.”
On the opposite side of the above quote by Marcus Aurelius lies one of, if not the biggest impediment to allowing that voice being heard:
More accurately, the PERCEIVED external judgment from others.
Whether it comes from parents, friends, teachers, strangers on Twitter, or your worried grandma, these opinions carry with them a heavy dilemma for us to deal with internally.
On the one hand, we want to make these people we care about proud and happy about what we are doing. They gave us so much so it would only be fair, right?
On the other, it is common for the pursuits that call for our soul to embark on, not to align with what others think is best for us.
They may seem risky, uncommon, probable to fail, impulsive, and overall not the best decision. Statistically speaking, the best decision is likely to go to university, get good grades, find a good job, and climb the corporate ladder.
If the one mentioned previously is what you genuinely want to do, then, by all means, go for it and give it all you got. I wish you nothing but success.
For all the others though, similar to me some years ago, who can’t see themselves living a fulfilled life doing that, or at least exclusively that, then the obstacle that needs to be overcome is an internal one.
The voice which you’ve been pushing down, the one which has been calling for something else, this voice, for better or worse, will need to be heard.
Away from the scrutiny of your friends and family, what do you truly want?
What is it that you’ve been repressing and avoiding which deep down you know can’t be ignored any longer?
Is it painting? Writing? Stand-up comedy? Living frugally in a Buddhist temple?
No matter what it may be, this conversation must be had, removing the perceived judgment of others out of it.
If you are thinking about painting but all you can hear in the background is your mother’s voice saying what a waste of time it is, then guilt is all you will feel when doing it.
So, How Do We Push Past This Judgment?
“You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. “— Marcus Aurelius
What worked for me may not work for you, with that said, in my experience, nothing better to change our perception than to live through an experience that forces us to do so.
In other words, to go beyond logical understanding and truly change the emotional perception.
If fear of judgment is a heavy burden you carry, then you must know that unless you are doing something ridiculously out there, no one really cares.
Sure they may give some output if you mention it to them, but after the conversation is over, people will completely forget about it.
In my life, I first experienced this when trying to improve my fitness.
Just finishing high-school, after some months of looking in the mirror feeling ashamed of what I saw, the time finally came to join a gym.
There was only a tiny-big problem:
I was scared of what others would think. I felt ashamed.
Knowing fully well I needed to get to the gym for optimal results, I avoided that by doing home workouts in my room with the door locked shut, doing as little noise as possible.
After a few weeks of this ineffective strategy, nervous and scared, face likely red as a tomato, I went to my mom and told her I wanted to join the gym.
From all the possible bad scenarios in my mind, getting made fun of, screamed at, questioned, and everything in between my mind was making up, do you know what she said?
“Sure. Do I need to sign anything for you to join?”
Suddenly all the made-up scenarios in my mind vanished and I was free to go and improve on myself.
Later on, when I took a somewhat “uncertain” job, traveling the world as a videographer, there was much more resistance from my family, however, after committing to the decision, once again, I realized how people will adapt to the decisions we make.
The reality is, in my experience, the same way we fear the judgment of others, so does everyone else.
The same way you think more about yourself than others is equally true for everyone else.
Quoting Marcus Aurelius again:
It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.
So whatever it is that your soul calls for but brings a knot in your stomach even thinking about letting others know about, even if it is something relatively small like me going to the gym for the first time, know that the feeling won’t go away.
Until you do what you know you want to do, what you have been avoiding due to fear of judgment, this terrible feeling won’t go away.
The only path to free yourself from this internal burden, as far as I know, is to be courageous for a small period of time, confronting the made-up fears in your mind. Proving to yourself that the big bad wolf in your mind was nothing but a slightly annoying chihuahua.
This is something that, the more we do, pushing past our fears, the more we stop caring about the possible reactions of those that surround us.
Consequentially, allowing us to move forward towards who we truly want to be.
Carrying the “boulders” of our own choosing.
Thank you for reading.