Being a Savage

March 7th, 2011 by Steve Pavlina

If I were to create a resume/CV for myself, it would start out something like this:

1989 – arrested for misdemeanor petty theft
1990 – arrested for misdemeanor petty theft (2x)
1991 – arrested for felony grand theft
1989-91 – UC Berkeley, expelled
1992  - retail sales associate, $6/hour, fired

I tried to plug myself into a system designed to mold me into a regular job-wielding citizen. But for some reason that system didn’t work for me. It kept spitting me out with an error message.

If you’re able to conform to such an environment and be happy and fulfilled on that path, that’s wonderful. But if you’re struggling to fit into a system that keeps spitting you back out again, perhaps your path of fulfillment is elsewhere.

Does it make sense to keep embracing a system that doesn’t really want you?

If you can’t hold down a steady job, pay your bills on time, and stay out of trouble, it doesn’t mean you’re broken. Perhaps it simply means that the path you’re trying to follow isn’t a good match for you.

Your path of fulfillment is uniquely your own. You won’t get there by doing what’s expected of you. You can’t play by the rules you’ve been taught to follow. Those rules don’t work for you.

When you find yourself in a system where happiness and prosperity can’t coexist for you, you’ll sabotage yourself. Either you’ll hold back and do the bare minimum, or you’ll do something that gets you kicked out. So why bother?

Yes, you have needs to satisfy. But it’s a heck of a lot easier to pay your bills when you’re happy and fulfilled. It’s a lot easier to generate abundant income when you feel good — and it’s a lot more intelligent that sacrificing your health due to stress and overwhelm. Making money and being happy are not in conflict, although the system often makes it hard to enjoy both at the same time.

Stop asking “What should I do now?” That question only brings up what others expect of you. The shoulds are nothing but social programming.

Free people don’t have shoulds. They have choices.

Shoulds don’t create happiness and fulfillment, nor do they create prosperity. Shoulds are really good at creating stress though.

Instead ask yourself, “What kind of man/woman do I desire to become?” When you take the time to understand what this person is like, it’s easier to decide what to do. And you’ll be able to see plain as day why you and “the system” don’t get along very well.

If you wish to be a person who’s free, creative, abundant, caring, honorable, and generous, then ask yourself which choices will move you in that direction. Can you see why a part of you would sabotage the cubicle job?

If you desire freedom and flexibility, then avoid situations that trap, confine, or limit you. Choose a path that allows you to keep your options open.

If you want to experience abundance, then don’t choose a path that ensures scarcity or limitation. Choose a path that has a shot of leading to prosperity. Say no to non-prosperous choices like a job with a fixed paycheck.

If you want to express your creativity, then don’t choose a path where someone else tells you what to do and how to do it. Choose a path where creativity is rewarded, not punished.

If you want to be more courageous, then don’t choose a “safe” path. Choose a path that will push you to stretch beyond your comfort zone. If the path won’t build your courage, it’s not your path.

You won’t have clarity about your path until you resolve what kind of person you wish to be.

Now you may look at your path and say, “That is NOT an easy path.”

No, it’s not an easy path at all.

If you want the easy path, follow the system. How has that path been working for you so far?

On one side we have the easy path. On the other side we have the path of happiness, fulfillment, prosperity, and all the other yummy stuff you desire.

If you don’t totally commit yourself to the fulfilling path, you’ll find yourself on the easy path by default. The easy path is automatic. The fulfilling path can only be consciously chosen.

To choose the fulfilling path, you have to be ready to leave behind the comfort of the safety-in-numbers path and embark on a journey that’s uniquely your own. You must be willing to visit places where there are no teachers, no mentors, no bosses, no parents to guide you, knowing that you’re perfectly capable of guiding yourself.

The easy path is someone else’s path. It looks easy because it’s been done before. For the same reasons, it’s also incredibly boring. If you dislike boredom as much as I do, you’ll sabotage yourself each time you try to follow that path. You’ll realize just how pointless it is to spend your precious life doing what’s already been done. Do you really want to live a rerun? Why bother?

As you can see by my resume, it didn’t take me long to realize that my path didn’t look like that of my peers. The benefit of this kind of resume is that I didn’t have the option of pretending that I could still succeed within the system. I had to choose some other path. It hasn’t been easy. It’s been AWESOME!

Of course my resume looks a lot nicer in recent years, but in all honesty I take more pride in how it began. My past screw ups helped me realize that I can’t play by someone else’s rules. I can’t be happy doing what society might expect of me. I have to follow my own path and do what I believe is best. If I try to follow the system, I get really bored and listless, and when I try to compensate for its shortcomings, it spits me out as a criminal, a reject, a defective person.

As it turns out, the system does this to millions of people. So is it really the people who are the problem?

Being a savage isn’t so bad once you get used to it. :)


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