I get asked quite often “how do you come up with the topics for your articles?” Well, there is no one answer. Sometimes they come from an idea I want to share, a lesson I’ve learned that I think may benefit others, a hardship I’m facing or have faced that I believe others are going through as well, something I observe in the world, or from conversations I have with people. The content of all of my articles comes from people. Whether it be in terms of emotion, ambition, creativity, fear of failure, growth… they all come from a place of trying to discuss our nature as human beings in the hope that by better understanding who we are as individuals, we can begin to define for ourselves who we want to become.
This week’s article is coming from conversations I shared with a few people in the last week. I’m blessed to have people in my life that are not only friends, but people that stimulate my thoughts. People that make me question what I do, in ways that allow me to do it in a more effective way. It goes without saying that context is everything. When you surround yourself with particular kinds of people you learn from them. I’ve spoken a bit more about this specific topic in my article “Know your surroundings”. The conversations I shared this past week really inspired me. They got me thinking, not only because I learned from them, but also because of the time in my life that I had met each of the people with whom I spoke. Each of them came into my life at a point that I want to refer to as “leveling up”. A time where a change had happened, and a new challenge had emerged. Each of them represented a different time of my life, but interestingly enough they all shared something in common. Growth.
I think we’ve all heard “life” being compared to “a game”, and that we as the players have to navigate it to beat the game. In many aspects I agree, and today I want to talk a bit about that. Let’s imagine for a moment that you are in fact playing a video game. The most simplified understanding of a video game may include levels. Levels that progressively become more challenging, ultimately leading up to some sort of final achievement. At each point the level changes, a unique thing happens. On one side, you’ve successfully accomplished the tests that the previous level gave you – you learned. On the other hand, the new level provides you with new challenges, where you take what you learned and apply it to a new challenge. In other words, the better you get at the game, the harder the game gets. If this is starting to sound like what many of us have labeled as “adulthood” then you may have already cracked the point of my article….
We go through stages of life – this is not something I’ve come up with this is a fact. As we progress through the stages, we learn, and the stages get harder and more challenging. A social life skill you learned in middle school becomes essential to survival in high school. A mathematical concept you learned in your high school algebra class becomes the foundation for your astrophysics course in college. As soon as you begin to master one level, the next level comes on to challenge you. Now – while this concept is not hard to understand per se, the application of it and the process of going through it can be extremely difficult.
Why is it difficult to apply?
There are several reasons so let’s break them down:
- It’s Exhausting – To climb a mountain only to realize that there is another one on top of it is an exhausting process. People often times lose stamina, not because they are not capable of climbing the second mountain, but because they assumed too quickly that their journey would be finished after the first. Learning to contextualize how you grow, and what steps you need to take to achieve your ultimate goal is crucial. Where do you find the energy to climb the second mountain? WHY. Why did you start climbing in the first place? When you have a purpose to follow the climb begins to feel less exhausting because every step is a step towards fulfilling your purpose.
- We all “Level Up” at different speeds – If you’ve ever played a video game with somebody else you will know some people are able to unlock the next level faster than others. It may be that some people can do it on the first try, while you need to repeat the level 4 or 5 times to progress. There’s nothing wrong with that. In our lives we get caught up in trying to compare our game to that of others. We lose track of our progress because it does not match the progress of somebody else. To level up on somebody else’s time is not you growing, it’s you trying to win – but only that level. The game has multiple levels, don’t be in a rush. Remember why you do what you do, who you want to become, what you need to get there, and you will level up in your own time. It’s not your victory if it’s not your game.
- Some of us are playing entirely different games – Continuing from the previous point, you have to remember who you are, and what makes you unique. Yes we all live life, but we don’t all live the same lives. Some of us have chosen paths in life that have more levels than others. More challenges to overcome, more loops to jump through. That in itself might be discouraging, but truthfully it’s rewarding to know that you have done what it takes to be who you want to be. Following a passion in life should be something unique, something that makes you special, and therefore something you can not expect others to level with all the time. Be ambitious, try to tackle that specific level in a new way. Maybe you are sitting on the secret to skipping a level all together.
- Growth is challenging – A rather obvious one but I’d like to mention it anyway. You have to look at the big picture in your life to truly understand how what you are doing in one moment, plays into the bigger purpose you are following. I often compare this concept to a screen. Screens are made up of millions of pixels. Millions of little screens that unify to create a whole. You have to understand that your life and everything you want to become and achieve is like that. You have to build each pixel, and each pixel is a “level up” in its own right. Allow yourself to focus on the moment but don’t let the failure of a moment deter you from the larger picture. That is an opportunity to “level up” – to try again. When one pixel on your screen goes out… you can’t really notice. It’s not the end of the world. Try again.
The biggest point I’d like to make in this article is that we each play our own game. We each have certain skills that make us unique – individual tools to help us pass each level and overcome each challenge that life sends us. When things get harder, it’s not because you’ve failed, it’s because you’ve succeeded in the previous level and have arrived at the new challenge. Believe in yourself because every level you have accomplished till now has been your success story – but you’re nowhere near done. Level up!