Ode to Softness, or How I Find My Strength in Weakness
Like most of you, I've read the thread on what people wish they knew when they were younger. You can find that here: (https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/what-do-yo…)
A reply in that thread wouldn't do justice to the sort of broad, sweeping theme I'm trying to paint, so I figured a new thread might be helpful.
I've always had a sense of an internal locus of control within my life, which is the belief that you, rather than other forces, influence the outcome of your life. I simultaneously believe in determinism, which says that all things are predetermined. These beliefs hold a delicate balance in my head. Natural laws determine all things, and yet they have determined that I will do my best and excel at being me, and I will do my utmost to shape the world around me in a positive way, despite the fact that all of these things were determined in advance. The most prevalent theme across all of the advice given was this internal locus of control, although I use that concept differently, and it's from that place that I find strength in weakness.
A frequent piece of advice was to never wallow in sorrow or self-pity. With this, I agree, but only on the wallowing. Life isn't perfect, and you will be hurt. There's genuine damage that occurs from this, regardless of what Stoics like Marcus Aurelius tell you; the choice you have is what you will do with this. Is it okay to reflect on your feelings for a while and heal? Yes. Do you ultimately get back up and give your hardest again? Always. Injury without healing is destruction, and to encourage effort unceasing without a healing process leads only to despair. In my temporary weakness, I find renewed strength.
Another frequent refrain across the site is that the world can be segregated into the "impractical world" and the "real world," and that business or professional experience constitutes the "real world." Similar constructions say that communicating virtually isn't the "real world," and that you need to go outdoors to experience "real life." These conceptions are folly. Everything is real in a sense for no other reason than that you have experienced it. No other justification is needed. Your experiences, regardless of whether they're in a cubicle or half-asleep on an air mattress, are real and worthy of regard. When I sit in bed and am so overcome with music that I get frisson (chills, look it up, it's great) on both my arms and up my neck, I'm realer than ever. When I see the Dolomites or the Pacific Northwest or the Swiss Alps in an image on the internet, their properties of beauty are mine just the same (not to say I don't wish to go to these places). When I write to people online and they write to me, they're mine. I appreciate the outdoors, fresh air, and the beauty that's there as much (and I suspect more) than those who would give this sort of counsel, but I am real everywhere else.
On listening to people with blue hair. I don't anticipate on ever dyeing my hair any color in my lifetime. I don't believe in tattoos. I don't particularly like these practices. Yet the truth is the truth no matter its source. Even if we believe that these people have no truth in them, I am reminded of John Stuart Mill's refrain that we should always "see that no scattered particles of important truth are buried and lost in the ruins of exploded error." Do I believe all things? No. Do I believe all people? No; many are the worst sorts of liars. But I am an archaeologist of the mind. I dig through the ruins to find truth in exploded error, and I counsel others to do the same.