Here’s a little secret. It’s something we used to know and understand. But as the entitlement culture’s virus has spread, we’ve forgotten it.
The secret is this: Life isn’t fair.
Some people enjoy shaming others because they were born with some advantage. While others love to play the victim card at every opportunity. All because they weren’t born with those same advantages.
All that blame and victimization is an excuse to avoid hard work. And to avoid the prospect of failure. See, when you don’t try. When you do nothing but complain about how bad you have it, you don’t have to put yourself out there. You don’t have to take a risk. And you don’t have to deal with the inevitable failures that come part and parcel with trying to build a better life.
But, crying, “it’s not fair” is a license to stay dependent. And to keep yourself mired in a state of perpetual feel-sorry-for-me victimhood.
You don’t control the world
One of the core ideas of stoicism is that you don’t control what the world throws at you. But you control how you respond. That there’s a moment between incident and response where you decide what type of person you are.
It’s true. You don’t control where you start out in life. None of us do. Some people have it easier, and some have it harder. We’re not only talking about affluence and connections here. There are many different advantages people can have. Some are smarter, while others are stronger. And some can jump higher and run faster. Who doesn’t want to be Michael Jordan or Usain Bolt? It’s not fair because not everyone can be a top-level athlete. But that’s the way things are.
Crying about fairness isn’t going to change any of that. Not one bit.
So, if where you start is outside of your control, what’s in your power?
The answer is: how you respond. You control the steps you take after you cross the start line.
You don’t control the hand fate deals you. But you control how you play it.
It’s your choice
It’s cliche to say that you’re the product of your choices. But you are. Your decisions make you the person you are.
Are you a victim? Or are the person who takes advantage of the opportunities available to you?
Are you a person who deserves success? Or are you a person who wants to only point out how unfair life is?
People have achieved what you want with far less than you. No matter how bad you think you have it, I guarantee that someone out there has had it worse and achieved more.
Put on your blinders
How did they do it? They didn’t compare their starting line to anyone else’s. When you do, you defeat yourself before you start.
Opportunities aren’t mutually exclusive. You don’t have fewer because someone else has more.
We all have opportunities we can pounce on.
Almost everyone has access to unlimited books, articles, and videos on the Internet. Many people also have access to a public library. The knowledge is out there to get started.
Some other guy or girl may have been born into a wealthy family with a lot of connections. But that’s not an excuse for you to do nothing. Go get online, start researching, and get moving.
It means you may have to work a little harder. You may need a bit more grit and creative thinking. But it doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Put on your blinders and concern yourself only with what you’re doing. Those other people don’t matter to you.
Remember, comparison is the thief of joy. All that matters in your quest for success is you.
It’s on you to create opportunities.
No one is going to hand you an opportunity. You have to create them.
Opportunities compound on each other. When you jump on one, you create more.
What happens when you use some free resources on the Internet to teach yourself how to build web pages? You open up the opportunity to go to work as a web designer. Yes, it’ll be more challenging for you than the guy with a fancy college degree and a parent with connections in IT.
So what? That’s not your concern. You’re only concern is learning and doing what you must to get that first job.
Comparing your starting line to someone else’s is a waste of time. And complaining about the unfairness is a story you’re telling yourself. It’s your story to justify your laziness and low self-esteem. And it’s also the story that you’ll use to cover up your regret at not taking advantage of your opportunities.
Slay your inner-bitch
You have a choice. You can surrender control to your inner-bitch and complain about how unfair life is. Or you can slay your inner-bitch. And start taking advantage of the opportunities you have.
When you slay your inner-bitch, you’re admitting to yourself that success takes hard work and you accept the looming specter of failure into your life. And that is the first, crucial step toward taking control of your life.
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