I was a decent but anxious football player when I was 10. I mostly stayed away from the ball. The ball brought attention and the possibility to make mistakes. I didn't like that.
I was terrified of making mistakes. Every situation felt like a test I could not fail. Every second in the game, I worried. I dreaded the ball would come my way, and I would have to prove the talent I'm supposed to have.
Even in practice, I could not relax. Every running session was an opportunity to be the last. Every drill was a threat that could destroy my image. Staying flawless was exhausting and, more importantly, ineffective.
Because of my aversion to making mistakes, I stopped improving. The fear prevented me from getting better. The problem was I didn't think change is really possible. I thought my football skills are fixed. That to be the best, all I need to do is avoid messing up and wait until others do. I assumed that's how you become the best player.
Well, it didn't work. Others got better despite occasional screw-ups, and I didn't, so I quit. Leaving felt like the only safe way out because I couldn't get extraordinary without risking a failure.
However, my understanding of the world remained unchanged. If something took too much effort, it meant I'm not gifted enough to be great at it. Every effort was a sign of weakness and a source of unwanted errors threatening my talents.
I believed my abilities are fixed, and my job is to show how good I am. Life felt like a series of tests to prove my worth to others. So I kept pushing the changeless me into the changeful world. Until...
The day that blew my mind
10 years later, an avalanche of changes rocked the foundation of my identity. I've just started my first year in college, bankrupted my first business, and went through an ugly breakup that forced me to move to a new shared appartment.
Suddenly, I had to deal with rapid changes in my life. Some were pleasant, some painful. But they happened whether I felt good or bad about them. And they forced me to adapt.
My mind was ready to be blown and rethink reality. The famous day was the first day after I moved to a new appartment, and it went something like this:
This was a game-changer. I realized I can choose who I want to be. I don't have to drag the unchanging me through the world with every flaw, fear, and flimsy. Life is mine to design. It might not be easy, but it's possible. I can become someone else, someone better. And all the knowledge I need to pull it off is at the tip of my fingers.
I was excited but confused. Why did nobody tell me this?
Only years later, I understood why no one did. It's because most people don't believe in change. And those that do, they think it's obvious.
Change is a story you tell yourself
The secret of people who change themselves and the world around them is simple. They believe in change and want to make things better.
You can choose to believe in the story of change too. It's your decision. And it's a story that will decide what your life is going to be.
You can either try to fit your unchanging self into what the world wants from you. Or you can become someone who wields change to shape yourself and the world around you.
Change takes effort, but it's possible and within your reach. As your first step, all you need to do is lean into the uncertainty and imagine change is possible.
Ask yourself: What if I could ___? And fill in the blank.
Welcome to the other side. You've just begun your journey to become a changemaker.
Design a life you enjoy
Get useful articles right to your inbox every week.