I’ve always hated complainers. I’m definitely not the most bubbly person alive, but I can only be around positive people. I hate complaining, I feel like one of my strengths is maintaining a certain level of optimism during debates, and I genuinely enjoy the musical stylings of Ariana Grande.
However, when I was younger I still internally whined to myself about why my life wasn’t perfect.
Why aren’t my parents like my friends’ parents? Why can’t I have a better paying job? Why isn’t college teaching me anything relevant? Why can’t I live in a more exciting city? Why am I not as talented or as smart or as rich or as ambitious as that person? Why am I not filled with all the charisma, charm, and musical talent of Bruno Mars?
That bullshit got me nowhere.
I remember when I was really little, I started implementing a tactic every time my parents didn’t give me what I wanted: I would cry. I wasn’t a baby, it wasn’t an instinctual reaction, it was a rehearsed plan. Despite how young I was, I still remember the light bulb that went off in my head when my plan worked: I could do this every time! The second or third time I did it, my sister called me out on it: “You’re way too old for that. Shut up.” Plan backfired.
At some point, like my sister once did, I called myself out on my bullshit. I realized how useless my mindset was. I owned up to my behavior and I stopped making excuses for myself. I accepted and adapted.
You can sit back behind your computer debating the low plausibility or unlikelihood of this scenario or that scenario. You can stomp your feet because you have a brilliant business idea but lack the resources to make it happen. You can complain that the government is getting in your way. You can resent your family for not supporting you. You can give yourself every reason to believe that the universe is fighting against you.
There’s nothing wrong with engaging in debates in pursuit of understanding the ways in which the world works and what societal barriers may prevent certain groups of people from achieving the same level of opportunity as others. Discussing and questioning things can be powerful and enlightening when done effectively.
You can deliberate and ponder about all the people who are granted more opportunities, advantages, or privileges than you. You could be justified in doing so. But the market doesn’t care. Contemplating, dwelling, and placing blame on external forces does not get you any closer to achieving what you want.
The time you spend retweeting smug condemnations, or engaging with a Facebook comment with 100+ replies, or defending your lack of privilege to people who may never understand, is time that could be better spent ignoring your limitations and your inadequacies, and instead searching for and channeling your strengths.
“Don’t argue for your limitations. Fight for your possibilities.” – T.K. Coleman
It’s definitely easier said than done. Making excuses convinces you that regardless of how hard you work, you may never be rewarded, so why even try?
Funny enough, as easy as it is to fight for your limitations, it’s just as easy to justify others’ seemingly obvious successes.
Oprah was born with natural talent, so of course she became an icon. Gary Vaynerchuk’s dad gave him a $3 million company, so of course he’s a successful businessman. Mark Zuckerberg is a genius who had rich parents who loved him, so of course he built an empire. Kylie Jenner was born into a famous family, so of course she has a multi-million dollar cosmetics company.
Okay, well, that last one can’t really be refuted.
But why can’t we justify our own advantages as effortlessly as we identify others’? Similarly, if you delve into any successful person’s past you will indisputably find a thousand reasons why they shouldn’t have become successful if you dig deep enough. There’s always evidence of setbacks that could have defeated them if they spent all their time complaining. With the probable exception of Kylie Jenner, nearly every successful entrepreneur got nowhere without working his/her fucking face off. It’s so easy to idealize others while discrediting ourselves.
We’re all byproducts of our upbringing and our circumstances, but we don’t have to be controlled by them. There are simply not enough days in one human life to spend them making excuses. Ignore your weaknesses and limitations. Accept, adapt, and get to work.
“Luck is preparation meeting opportunity.” – Oprah
Pages read today: 51
Books this month: 2
Chipotle burritos this year: 7