The Lonely Path (II)

That incomplete thought process is hounding me. It feels as if the main point that I tried to convey in the first take on this subject eluded that entire post. The main point was simply this. Before I continue, I am well aware that me using the term simple when explaining what’s going on in my head is quite the oxymoron. So there is no need to snigger about that.

Anyway, the point is, when we choose to pursue a greater calling in life that stretches who we are and what we stand for, we need to realise that the people that are familiar with who we are will no longer know the person that we are striving to become. Under ideal circumstances they will grow with us. But ideals are most often talked about and rarely implemented. So expect to feel a creeping sense of isolation when you push yourself beyond the norms that surround you.

Understand that when you outgrow the environment that you’re in, those that have grown to be defined by that environment will quickly assume that you are trying to be better than them. Or maybe they will assume that you think you are now better than them. Whether that is true is irrelevant. What is relevant is that you are different. You are hopefully a better version of you. But unless you surround yourself with people that appreciate and grow with you, that’s when the lonely path appears before you.

You’ll find yourself growing uneasy as you feel at odds with what used to be familiar and comforting but slowly grows to feel discomforting and somewhat annoying. The comfort of familiarity will be replaced with the realisation of exclusion. Not the exclusion from social circles because that remains consistent for the most part. But the exclusion that leaves you emotionally wanting while physically accepted. An ambivalence sets in that challenges what you believe to be true against what you think may be an assumption of grandeur.

Believing that you are capable of more borders precariously between confidence and delusion. Choose delusion, and you’ll be delusioned about your dreams and aspirations, resulting in an embrace of mediocrity so that the familiar comfort of fitting in continues to stroke your ego. Choose confidence and expect to be tested each time you take a bold step towards being the better version of you. Each time you break away from the norm you risk ridicule or rejection, or both. More importantly, each time you step up, you face self-doubt about your ability to succeed, and your motivation to want to succeed.

Are you still serving that greater purpose or are you serving your ego? Are you pushing yourself to escape complacency or are you courting the admiration of others? The questions that hold you back never cease while the strength to push on is always just out of reach. That’s when you need to stretch yourself into unknown spaces. That’s when doing what feels comfortable and safe threatens to undo every bit of progress that you made up to that point. Even if no one else noticed that progress, you’ll know it was there after you gave it up. Give it up silently and it will haunt you quietly for the rest of your life as you wonder if you would have been able to pull it off. Protect that progress and nurture it into something greater, and you’ll face the reality of success and the horror of failure every few minutes in the back of your mind as you try to focus on what you feel passionate about while trying to subdue the self-doubt that gave you reason to procrastinate for so long.

At that point you’ll slowly begin to realise that life was never about persevering through trials, it was always about facing the fears of success. By focusing on the trials we have something to raise as a trophy just by surviving. Succeeding in moments that trounced others feels like success, but once the moment passes, once the recognition of our struggles and our bravery fades, we’re back to facing off the same questions that taunted us when we grew restless in the first place when we first looked at our life and saw all the gaps we could fill to make it better and improve it beyond meaningless embellishments. You cannot unsee what you stared in the face. The more you try to ignore it, the more exhausting the effort to distract you from it.

The lonely path is the only path that showed others that there is a better way. It is the sacrifice of one that improves the lives of many. Needing the guarantee of reciprocation or reward before setting out to improve this world feeds the transactional greed that defines too many of our interactions. Be like everyone else and you’ll always feel like you belong, except when you’re taking your final breath, or when you’ve aged beyond your fickle social needs. When your energy and your health no longer allows you to pursue with gusto the passion of your youth, desiring to change the world will be nothing more than self-inflicted torture. Building hope on the empty promises of inclusion by society is a foolish way to burn your candle. If you hope to die knowing that the world is better because of your existence, don’t shy away from the lonely path, embrace it.

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