August 16, 2020

Just start

Having unlimited time to think about yourself and your life for months on end is, and I emphasise, fun. While mostly frustrating, I believe that the Covid-19-induced lockdown has granted us much needed time to critically introspect. Being naturally introspective, I have been in overdrive, reflecting on my shortcomings and my future. Evaluating both critically has yielded some gems. One of them can be summarised into two words, just start. Another way of saying it is, “just do it” as Nike so fervently reminds us. For me, just start is the realisation that if you have dreams, especially the kind of dreams that keep you up at night because you have not started walking a journey towards realising them, you have to stop making excuses and get going. This is easier said than done, life has a way of creating insurmountable challenges. However, this is to say that dreams should never easily be left in the graveyard. You just have to start, no matter how small the initial steps - progress is progress.

Funnily enough, this realisation cemented itself for me while watching the Rap Radar interview with Drake. Drake was asked whether he ever saw himself coming this far. In short, his response was, “not really”. While he had aspirations of becoming as great as his mentor, Lil Wayne (ambitious in its own right), he never imagined being the “artist of the decade” of the 2010s - at least not numbers wise. He has broken a vast number of records, won a significant number of awards, earned excessive amounts of money and has maintained relevancy for a decade in rap - an impressive feat. This principle can be extended to a number of successful people. I highly doubt that when Mark Zuckerberg started the first versions of Facebook, he saw it becoming what it is today (both positives and negatives) or that he would cross the $100 billion net worth mark at the age of 36. Bringing it closer to home, we have South Africa’s favourite, Trevor Noah. Even as a successful South African comedian, who would’ve guessed he would become the successor of Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. Certainly not me and probably not him either. Even if we look at more everyday cases, the same applies. In a country such as South Africa, many graduates are first generation graduates. Oftentimes, their life circumstances are crippling and even the thought of going to university is a stretch. Yet, many of them have done it and are flourishing. Undoubtedly, the aspirations are there but to actually walk across the stage at graduation must be surreal - it’s something that could easily feel beyond your wildest dreams. While we all dream big and have grandiose aspirations, it’s impossible to envision the true magnitude of any endeavour up front. Fundamentally, the common thread is that nobody knows how far any endeavour will go. You must have the vision, ambition and perseverance to see it through but at the start of your journey, it is impossible to grasp the full picture.

The gist of all of this is that whatever it is you want to do, the ‘life hack’ is to just start. Oftentimes, out of fear, we talk ourselves out of starting something. It might be the fear of failure, letting yourself down, letting others down or even just the fear of journeying into the unknown. Those fears are crippling, usually unfounded and inhibit us from pursuing our dreams. This boils down to people walking away from their dreams and often at the expense of their own happiness. Ironically, if you don’t start, the only guarantee you have is that you will never achieve that dream - you’ve reduced your odds to zero. The upside of starting is that you actually have no idea how far it will go. Statistically speaking, it’s likely that you will fail. That is perfectly fine - you’ve learned something, conquered your fears and can do it even better for round two! In the event you succeed, the upside is unbounded. If you start a company and in the first 2 or 3 years you’ve found success, who knows what it will look like in 15 years? It could be a relatively small company, it could be massive, it could provide you with enough income to do what you want to do, it could bring you the happiness in doing something of your own. There is even pride in knowing that you attempted it. A dream failed is better than a dream unattempted. At the end of the day, nobody knows how things will turn out. Fortunately, that’s a good thing - there is always something bigger and better to strive towards. If you keep envisioning the next few steps and putting in the required effort, amazing things could happen! Personally, I find peace in that.

The crux is, you just have to start. It might not be today, it might not even be tomorrow but the only way to guarantee something happens is to give it a go.

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