Becoming Something You're Not
November 28, 2017
Author: Bianca Yang
I once said to my friend that a certain action was “too out of character” for me. Then I said that that statement only applies if I was acting.
It’s now common for people to feel like they are acting. They don’t feel safe revealing who they “really are”. But how do you know who you really are? Are you sure you’re not behaving the way you are because of certain societal and social pressures? How do you know you are who you really are? If we want to think really hard about this, we could say that we are infinitely malleable beings because each choice we made along our lives up until this point was guided by feedback we got from others. If someone hadn’t said something at x point or if we hadn’t made y decision, our lives would be z degrees shifted from the current world line, to borrow a word from Steins;Gate.
But that analysis doesn’t really matter. We are flexible, constantly changing beings. Our identity is fluid. Our memory holds us together between time points. As long as my memory is intact, I am who I am.
Today, I also thought a bit about corporate competition and war. I believe I read something about people coming to war in LA over school districts and school effectiveness. I remembered someone else writing on Hackernews about how war is fundamentally a game of attrition. You have to continue as long as the other side is unwilling to give up. Sometimes I feel like that’s the purpose of business competition. Two companies attack the same space, hoping that eventually one of them will gain the upper hand and forever wipe the other out of the space. But that’s a stupid view of things, because what are you going to do once you win that war? You’re going to have to find another war to fight because that’s how you’ve defined your existence. This is my problem with setting goals. Working on a system of goals is like climbing a ladder. You constantly have to add new rungs to the ladder to keep yourself occupied. The thought of infinitely having to search for another rung to reach for sounds exhausting and futile.
I think the alternative way of looking at life is to see it as an infinite game. Our entire purpose of playing this game is to continue the play indefinitely for all the participants. So, the purpose of a business is to survive as long as possible. We want to survive because we like surviving. We derive purpose and meaning just from surviving.
If you are afraid, be afraid, but do things anyway.
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