Why do we do anything? Personally, I think it’s a mix between boredom, insecurity, and fantasy.
I think we are all fundamentally driven by this notion that our past lives did not live up to our expectations for what we wanted it to be. It could also be just me. We work towards our future lives in hopes that it will be better than our past lives. We create a fantasy to drive ourselves — a fantasy of a future that redeems our past. In a small way, it is a revenge fantasy. We are taking revenge on our past selves for what we could not become back then. Sometimes, we are trying to prove others wrong. Part of working towards revenge is demonstrating that we could achieve what others did not expect us to, but it is more what we did not expect ourselves to do. We understood our potential through rejection by others, and by rejecting others we are also rejecting our limited potential.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to truly free ourselves from the influence of other people. Even when we set out to achieve we want to achieve — and end up achieving it — we still are burdened by the insecurity in which that drive to achieve incepted in the first place.
A lot of spiritual healing advocates for purging negative vibes from your body, but I generally think negative vibes are on aggregate good for humanity. If we didn’t have negative vibes in our lives, then we wouldn’t be motivated to do anything. Can you imagine if we lived in a state of complete satisfaction? It sounds horrible. There would be nothing to be done because there isn’t any negative energy to drive us. What would we do, twiddle our thumbs while listening to the same Taylor Swift record for the 100th time? There probably wouldn’t even be any Taylor Swift music because Taylor Swift probably derived her artistic inspiration from the sublimation of negative events in her life. Do you really want to live in a reality where there isn’t any sad Taylor Swift music to vibe to? It’ll be like “Our Song” Taylor x 100.
People say that writers are sad all the time. I generally disagree with that, mostly because I believe it’s unfair to extrapolate a writer’s personality from their writing. If you only read my writing, especially the writing I did in college, you would think that I only existed in a state of perpetual sadness. But in reality, I’m mostly content with my life. It just happens that the only time I ever do anything is because I feel annoyed, bored, or hurt.
Whenever I am asked, “What is your biggest weakness?” in a behavioral interview, an answer I like to give is, “My biggest weaknesses eventually become my greatest strengths,” and then I list out my strengths. It’s a cop-out answer, I know. I still think it’s a pretty fricking good answer though, mostly because it speaks to some truths about the adaptability of the human condition. Just because it’s a politician’s response doesn’t mean it’s not true. I genuinely believe that our weaknesses become our strengths, and I would say the same thing about our insecurities… but only in circumstances with the proper defense mechanisms.
If insecurity is met with denial or projection or repressed, it will not result in positive change. If insecurity is acknowledged and sublimated, then there will be progress made towards building a stronger character. In this regard, much of our life boils down to resilience. Are we strong enough to turn weaknesses into strengths, or are we going to fall in a negative reinforcement cycle? A lot of the time, it is easier to hurt ourselves because it saves us the pain of being hurt by something we cannot control, but internal resilience is not built through self-destructive behavior. Because we have internal resilience, we have the freedom to become stronger people. We also have the freedom to reject our internal resilience and fall prey to our insecurities.
In life, we respond to our insecurities. Most of these times, these responses are instinctual. But just because a response is instinctual doesn’t mean that it’s not a choice. It is our choice how we respond to insecurities, even though a lot of the time we convince ourselves that we do not have a choice over what we are insecure over. It may be an instinct, but instincts can be tamed with reason. Instincts can be controlled with reason. We may not have control over how we respond to something in a given instance, but we do have control over how we respond to something over a period of time. We were born with the gift of conscious effort, and our freedom is stratified to the degree we exercise conscious effort.