I have a theory. Humans have become locked into a way of living, such that they no longer know who they really are.
In today’s 21st century, humans are obsessed with objects and things – that fancy car, that new gizmo with all the bells and whistles. It’s all about the high-paying power job and keeping up with the Joneses. And certainly there is nothing immediately wrong with that. But the problem starts to evolve when you consider that there exists some inbuilt need in all of us to tick-off certain checkboxes. You know the ones I’m talking about – marriage, house, children, high-paying job, move to a bigger house in the country, promotion and so on. And for some reason, we can’t but help compare ourselves to our peers. Perhaps it’s the mass media and rise of the celebrity or maybe it’s just the fact the society tends to favour those with a healthy wad of cash and those who conform.
The problem is before you know it you’re ticking off checkboxes just because you think you have to, ending up in a job that doesn’t get you jumping out of bed in the morning, and stuck in a lukewarm relationship (which has to be better than the alternative of being single, right?). But do we at any point in this tick-box endeavour really ask who we are and what we want in life?
My theory is that it is all too easy for people to reach “middle life” then suddenly have an identity crisis because they have been too focused on box ticking and not on what makes them tick. We see this all the time: mid-life crises, mature people going back to school, changing career paths. I believe we may inadvertently have struck upon a hidden malady within our society.
It scares me, this thought of not knowing who I am. I remember a teacher who once told me that she was well into her mid 50s (and with a broken marriage behind her) before she realised she needed to figure out what she wanted in life and who she was as a person. Her point was in regards to what courses I wanted to study at university but all I could think was: “F*** that, I’m not going to wait until my mid-50s before I figure out who I am.” Yet five years after that I found myself crying on my bedroom floor because I couldn’t answer a damn self-help questionnaire on what my values in life were. I was 24 and didn’t have the foggiest. But it’s easy to get stuck in a nice comfortable rut…
I fear that too many people in this day and age will be struck with an identity crisis. Look at all the television programmes on people who have upped sticks and moved to the middle of nowhere, suddenly self-sufficient without the need for a mobile phone. And by god they seem happy. These are the people that got out, who now challenge themselves every day. I believe there is power in the saying: “Do one thing each day that scares you.” Because it is only by doing this, I think, that you can really tap into your inner pulse. I want to champion this notion that we need to get outside our comfort zone.
A lot of travel blogs provide tips and advice on travelling, and they are ultimately about journeys. But I want my blog to be different. While mine is still very much a journey – attempting to climb 40 volcanoes by 40 (though I am still working on the first volcano at the moment) – its roots are grounded in the personal, psychological and spiritual journey that will develop as a result. It is a process of learning – not just my adventure of self-discovery but sharing the learnings of other people that I meet along the way. I think if we all stepped outside our comfort zone we would learn something valuable about ourselves and we would all, ultimately, be happier. Surely that’s worth shouting about.
What have you learnt about yourself and life? Please share your comments below.