A guide to living life on your terms.
I was 27 when I realized my definition of success was messed up.
My own house, a fancy car, branded clothing, pictures of expensive holidays to post on my socials — if I had all these, I thought I’d be happy.
Then, I quit my job to pursue my passion for writing, and then realized how meaningless most of the status games we play are. Money and public perception matters nothing if you aren’t able to wake up every day feeling excited about your life. This powerful clarity allowed me to design a life free from what I’ve been told is the epitome of perfection.
“The rat race is a hamster wheel to nowhere.”
This quote by Tim Denning got me thinking about how so much of our life is spent in mindless, repetitive tasks that lead us nowhere.
True freedom comes at a price, and if you’re willing to pay it, your life will change so much, you won’t be able to recognize yourself.
Don’t believe me? Read on, and maybe you’ll leave with a changed perspective.
Looking good all the time
Sure, your appearance is the first thing people notice when they look at you. But looking pretty all the time is nothing but a status game, taking up unnecessary space in your brain.
When you make looking good a priority, it’s all you think about wherever you go.
Why are they looking at my shoes? I’ll try to hide my feet under the table.
I’m having a bad hair day. I should skip attending the meet-up.
I feel so underdressed for this event. I’ll just eat in this corner and leave before anyone notices.
The list of thoughts making you feel conscious and self-aware could go on and on. If you take a closer look, this is mostly you self-censoring and denying yourself what could have been the experience of a lifetime.
What you can do instead
Instead of prioritizing your physical looks, focus on building your personality.
Polish your communication skills, greet everyone with a smile, and work on your soft skills to have your presence felt.
Once you start proving your merit, people will automatically get drawn to you (rather to your personality).
In my experience, when your personality is awe-striking, people barely care how good (or bad) you look. This doesn’t mean you attend a corporate party in a night dress, but you get the drift.
Buying luxury items to show you’re better than others
I know many people who go above and beyond their capacity to add that one luxury brand to their wardrobe. I feel bad for them because they’re displaying fancy labels and overpriced luxury items to hide their insecurities behind.
I also used to think owning luxury items was the ultimate sign of “making it” in life. It’s the quietest way to make a statement, isn’t it?
Wrong. Owning a luxury item might make you feel good instantly, but the initial sheen will wear off soon. Then it’ll be another item you bought to impress people you don’t like.
As the hedonic treadmill theory suggests, after momentary spikes in happiness, our subjective well-being returns to the pre-event baseline. It’s scientifically proven how vain it is to buy things to be happy.
Some people even buy these items on loans just to be a part of some high-level materialistic game. I don’t advocate it at all.
What you can do instead
In this day and age of rampant credit card swipes and EMIs, anybody can look rich and luxurious. Skip this status game and focus on personal development to feel rich and free for the rest of your life.
Fitting your life into templates
Let’s talk about the golden cages of societal templates all of us are put into right after birth.
Study well. Get a job. Get married. Have kids. Work harder to provide.
We’re expected to follow these societal templates without ever questioning them.
This golden cage looks good and makes you acceptable in society, but in the end, it’s just that — a trap. These cages are designed to slowly erode your free will and ultimately turn you exactly like everyone else.
You won’t even feel the societal templates catching up with you, but look around.
You’ll find colleagues stuck in toxic jobs because quitting or being without a job is socially unacceptable.
You’ll find people getting married because their parents (or grandparents) want them to.
You’ll see your friends have children even when they’re not ready, only because everyone else is having one.
Is this freedom in any way?
What you can do instead
If you want true freedom, dare to be a maverick and call your own shots. Make your own rules and break them. It doesn’t matter what society wants, as long as you are right in your own eyes.
Take my example. I’m a 32-year-old unmarried woman in India running my own business. By all societal standards, I’m the definition of unacceptable.
This is just one side of my story.
On the flip side, I’m learning pole dancing (aka working on my physical fitness). I write about what I want, and can afford a beautiful house with a loving pet. I take 5 to 6 vacations a year and passively generate income even while traveling. I talk to inspiring people from all over the world daily and make decisions that impact the future of upcoming startups.
Not a bad life, is it? I was able to build this for myself only because I refused to stick to templates.
I was apprehensive of coming across as off-putting in social events. With time, I learned to quit this status game of being acceptable. That’s when I gained the freedom I didn’t think was possible.
It’s time to break free!
Society has programmed you in a way that imprisons you.
Status games are undoubtedly alluring. They fill you with vain pride but trust me, they won’t create a life worth living.
You can spend all your life engaging in status games like:
- Looking good all the time
- Buying luxury items to show you’re better than others
- Fitting your life into templates
These are nothing but distractions from how miserable your life is slowly becoming. Put an end to the society dictating your life and reclaim the reins.
Most importantly, break free from the roadblocks you create in your own head. Be comfortable with the idea of letting go. Work on yourself and your personality, and be unapologetically candid to build and live a life you love. Now is a better time to start than any.