"Well, you f*cked that up."
It's the phrase we hear, and dole out, a little too much now. The new year has come around and people are hastily making their "self-improvement/resolution" lists. Which means? A lot of the time the previous year achievements go out the window; you're not skinny enough, you don't work hard enough, etc. Self-help books are MADE for this shit, thought pieces excel during this period (example A, what chu reading right now), and the list-makers of the world are coming out from behind their desk lamps to scream I told you so to all those lazy "live in the moment" people. We have to refine! Reflect! Better ourselves! In the words of Shia LaBeouf, JUST DO IT!
And I think this reflection can be awesome; you're kicking puppies every day? Ya, probably shouldn't do that. You're working yourself so hard that you got a new silver hair do' without hitting the salon? Sure, should probably chill a little bit on that. This time of year though seems to always lead to the idea that you need to refine yourself so you stay on a certain path, doing certain things in order to not be the one to, well, fuck it up.
But it also brings up the question, what are we comparing our "fucking up" too? Was there an announcement of a certain way you should be always living your life that I missed? Likely, because I'm usually tired without one or two Americanos, but I think I would've gotten the memo sometime during my two decades.
I used to live for any kind of idea of "how to avoid fucking up". I was an expert; punishing myself if I strayed away from the conventional notion of how to succeed, constantly pushing myself more and more in all aspects of my life because I was trapped in the idea that I was never doing enough. I wasn't eating healthy enough, I wasn't studying hard enough, if I took one day off and wasn't planning out my next steps really wasn't I just wasting my time? Self-care was a myth to me, creativity was a waste of time when I could be productive - I didn't stop to let new ideas in, instead I was focused on this one path that I thought was the only way I could be successful.
But paths to success are much less conventional then we think, and believing that there is only one way to do something not only makes for a pretty boring story but could also make you a lot more sad thinking you HAVE to do something. It always tricks us into the notion that success can only be defined one way (usually with money). After I took a year off of school after high school to take care of my mental health (conventional fuck up number 1), started to take care of myself and not pull all nighters for school (fuck up number 2), and going after things I wanted to do instead of doing things I thought I NEEDED to do (strike 3) - I was much more successful in my academic and personal life.
Over the break, I got to read Originals by Adam Grant, the whole time I was basically having mini-epiphanies and probably freaked a lot of people out shouting WOW when I was reading. This book is INSANE. It basically took all the rules that were concrete in my mind about what you needed to do to succeed and fucked them over. TAKE THAT CONFORMITY WHEW. What did I learn? There are actually different paths to succeed, and those paths may just stem from the very idea of how we shouldn't be living our lives.
Take how people who choose the unconventional chrome or firefox are actually more likely to be innovative. Or that people stuck in middle management are also less likely to step out of conforming to what they're told. Conventional notions of "useless hobbies" in the arts actually lead people to be much more innovative in other areas of their life, making them more successful because they have more life experience to draw upon.
For me, the biggest "WTF" was that procrastination can actually trigger creativity and lead to a better product. I procrastinate like I sweat - a lot and profusely. Even though I always finished my work on time, I always had it in my head that I must be doing something wrong and I should be working harder. Grant draws on wildly successful people who procrastinated to form their ideas such as Michelangelo. Even Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream Speech" wasn't finished until the night before, and even 5 minutes before taking the podium he was still reworking one of the most influential speeches of our time.
But it's not just about saying f*ck everything - in Originals the author Adam Grant also points why those paths worked, and the main theme was hard work. You can't just pull a "MUM I'M LEAVING SCHOOL TO BE A DANCER" Billy Elliot shit if you can't actually dance, it ain't gonna work. Grant debunks the idea that you have to throw everything away in order to be successful, you can't just dismiss hard work. Many of the most successful people in the world (like the founders of Warby Parker) we're hesitant to leave stable jobs and education because they wanted a back up; it was only when they when their product/idea got to a point where it was successful enough to demand their full attention did they pursue it full time. Ergo? They took enough time to make sure it was good enough to succeed, when it was ready their passion was unleashed and it went out to the world like a Ferrari on the autobahn.
I'm not saying that you have to stay in a dead-end job, but success takes work - hard work. Girl Boss Sophia Amurso for example? She's worth 250 million and created a hugely successful company (Nasty Gal) with absolutely no debt by not following the rules and working her ASS off. She didn't She followed her passion because the mainstream route to success wasn't her scene and look what happened? We get to rock kick ass clothes and the woman is a literal #GIRLBOSS. It's just the idea that there is no ONE way to get there.
Conclusion? The conventional notion of fucking up is only used as a way to keep people thinking that there is only one way to do something. All these different paths people took prove that there's no one way to do something. PEOPLE! LIVE YOUR LIFE! It's what b-list pop songs are made of, and when we embrace the idea that we can maybe choose what we want to do with our lives (WOAH), 2017 may just be off to an even better start than we thought.
So when you're making those to do list for your new year new me insta, remember you don't need to please anyone but yourself. Success comes with passion, not coercion to a certain ideal. Don't think you need to lose 15 pounds or work 24/7 just to be happy, cause I tried that and it landed me in a hospital for a couple months (on the real). People make their goals based from other people's expectations, but as seen above, it's the people who went against the grain and "fucked up" against the typical notion of how things should be done who really make it. So go, do your thing, drop it low and reach high people, kiss a stranger whatever. Keep being f*cked up, keep on the grind and 2017 will be your year.