Let’s do something fun. But scary at the same time.
Fun because of the possibility of hearing interesting stories. Scary because of how horrifying, and relatable, those interesting stories might be.
Let’s grab the hands of some adults and bring them back to childhood. To their childhood. We want to get them to remember some of their childhood to answer one question.
Let’s get the parents, too. Let’s get the old friends. The new friends. The important people in those adult’s lives. Their closest friends. The person reading this article on the internet right now.
And let’s ask those people the same question we are going to ask our previously-over-protected adults.
We will probably hear fun stories.
Before the question, by ‘some adults’ I mean only this: adults who had, and maybe still have, parents who were/are overprotective.
Here is the question:
Did the strategies that your parents applied actually prevented you from getting hurt by life?
Probably no. Even if they didn’t get hurt in obvious ways, they did get hurt in subtler ways. They have missed chances to develop their own strength. And they are less likely to take any huge risk because they are not used to facing conflict and hardships. That will surely hurt them as adults.
The parents will somehow realize that their children are afraid of facing the outside world. They may rationalize their concern and say that the world is a dangerous place. And, indeed, it can be a very dangerous place and it can hurt them1If you are interested in the debate about whether the world is safer or not, you can start looking here and here. Spoiler alert: It’s not really that dangerous and it’s even safer that it has ever been.. However, those who survive are not the protected ones, but rather they are the ones who have learned how to protect themselves (with the scars to back that up).
Those with no scars are not the strongest. They are the most naïve ones and the weakest ones. The ones with a lot of scars are not necessarily the strongest. It’s more about if they have the mentality to go out there and get hurt and learn something or two.
Which Is Safer? The Basement or the Road?
Jordan Peterson in one of his videos was telling the story of a young boy and his girlfriend.
The girlfriend had decided to go for a hike and asked her boyfriend to join her. Both were young, so they had to ask their families.
The girl’s family made sure that she would get all the equipment that would help her stay safe. The boy’s family was not so enthusiastic about the whole idea and was concerned like, “you won’t be safe.”
Obviously, there was a possibility of getting hurt on this journey.
But Jordan Peterson argued that while the journey might be dangerous, that boy staying in his house and wandering around the basement was even more dangerous!
What will this boy do wandering around the basement?
What skills is he not going to learn because he is comfortable in this basement?
The Possibility of Getting Hurt
There is always this possibility of getting hurt.
Heck, there is the possibility that the device on which you are reading this article right now explodes and kill you. There is the possibility that it will damage your eyes. There is the possibility that the building would collapse.
Those are scenarios that can happen although the possibility of them happening is quite low.
Then there is the possibility of getting laid off. There is the possibility of being broke and not finding a good job even when you work hard. There is the possibility of getting rejected by the person you find attractive. There is the possibility of getting dumped by the person you are in a relationship with. There is the possibility of losing someone you care about due to a disease.
Though those are sad examples, they do happen more often than the previous ones. They are realistic. Some may argue that you sometimes can avoid them, but the point is that they are here and they may happen.
Now let’s talk about the most important things in your life as this article is mainly here to remind you of them. They, too, are a bit risky and you can get viciously hurt.
There is always the possibility of rejection and embarrassment whether romantically or professionally. This person who you get knee-jerk when you see? They might not give a fuck about you. The business idea you have always wanted to make a reality? It can miserably fail.
The person you have developed feelings toward and you want to tell them about that and see how things might go (you pray they would go well!) can politely (or non-politely) tell you they don’t have those overwhelming feelings.
Your most important work which you want to show to the world might not succeed. Your skills might not be appreciated as much as you hoped they would. You might get laughed at. You might wander for months broke and hopeless even if you are a good person.
I believe I am very good at highlighting the worse that could happen in every situation. And I believe many of you are. We pay attention to what we consider dangerous as to avoid it. We have a keen eye on the possibilities of getting hurt because that’s the one thing we don’t want.
You, me, and everybody don’t want to go through any of these situations I mentioned above.
After all, who wants to get hurt?
This fear of getting hurt can motivate us to “stay safe”. It can motivate us to stay around our basements and wander around our living room wondering how scary it is to go out there and not be safe anymore.
But is this a valid argument?
Are we really safe when we try to stay safe?
Are we really safe when we are inside of our basement avoiding the things that might hurt us?
The Myth of Being Safe
We assume that when we avoid the things which might hurt us that we will be safe.
But how false of an argument is that!
There is always a price to pay. Always. There are no expectations.
If you hadn’t chosen to pick up your phone and laptop, you would’ve not read this article and learned something or two. If you chose to never step into any building because it might collapse, you would probably spend your life in the sun.
If you chose to never get a job because you might get rejected, you would spend your life begging your friends for money. If you chose to never present your business ideas to the world, you would never have that successful business that you want.
If you don’t open up and trust some people in your social circle, you will never have close friends and you will suffer from loneliness. If you don’t open your mouth and speak to the person you find attractive, you will never know if it’s going to work or not.
If you don’t fail and get rejected and present a poor quality of work, you will never have the opportunity to learn from your own experiences so as to make better choices the next times. You will not have the skills, for the skills come when you do something a lot. And you can never do something a lot without screwing up a couple of times. In fact, it’s when you screw up that you get to refine what you know to do better next time.
All of that hurts. It hurts because it’s going to cost you something or two.
Just as when you are in the field playing there is a price that you have to pay, when you sit on the fence there is also a price that you have to pay.
There is hurt either way. There is a price whatever you do.
So is it this dark and scary no matter what you do?
Yes and no.
It’s a matter of choice. And no choice is easier than the other. Rather, it’s about which price you are willing to pay and which hurt you are willing to tolerate.
Let’s expand on this point.
Possibilities vs. Guarantees
If there is one thing you need to understand so far from this article, let it be that it’s guaranteed to get hurt. Whether you do what you are scared of or not, you will get hurt.
So basically, there are two types of hurt:
- You get hurt because you did what you are afraid of.
- You get hurt because you didn’t do what you are afraid of.
Of course, we can argue that you have to choose which type of hurt you are willing to live with. And this is true. You have to choose.
But here I want to look at the situation from a different way and introduce an idea that might help you go beyond just choosing because you have to choose.
In either case, there is one guarantee as we have mentioned: getting hurt. There is no such thing as being safe.
However, in one case there is the possibility of growth and learning. In the other case, this possibility doesn’t exist. And it’s obvious which is which2Growth and learning are always painful processes because of the guaranteed hurt and pain.
When you go out there and do the things you know you should do, although they scare the shit out of you, there is the guarantee of uncertainty and pain. But also there is the possibility of learning and growth. And if this possibility became a reality, pain and hurt will actually be worth it. This is the so-called pride and how you build self-respect by stepping out of your comfort zone.
But when you don’t do what you know you should do, because of fear or anything, you don’t have this possibility of growing and learning. You only have regret, pity, fear, self-hatred and self-doubts. Let alone that you will have fewer skills because of the fact that skills development requires growth and learning, which are only achieved by getting your hands dirty and risking failure and actually failing sometimes.
Just as you choose to pick up your phone and read this article although your phone might explode and kill you, you have to choose whether to say what you believe in, ask that person out, propose your business idea, work hard on improvement, or not. There are no guarantees that it will work; there is only the guarantee that it will be painful and that it will suck. But with daring greatly and moving forward, there is the possibility of growth, learning, self-respect, and comfort knowing that you have done your best regardless of the outcome.
Choose now and choose wisely. As Mark Manson puts it, it all comes down to which shit sandwich you are willing to eat.