“You are what you pretend to be.” – Kurt Vonnegut
At this point in my life, I’m doing a serious amount of introspection. At 30 years old, I feel like I’m caught in the first of my life’s major crossroads; there’s the person I currently am at 30 years old, the person I thought I would be at 30 years old, and the person I want to be after 30. For whatever reason, some people my age have given up on becoming the person they wanted to be and have been forced to settle into the existence of the person they’ve become. I fully recognize those two perspectives of myself are vastly different, but rather than dwell on those differences (and personal failures), I’m still mainly focused on the third road: becoming the person I want to be.
Some established businessmen (like Mark Cuban) may refer to me as a “want-repreneur.” While I was initially offended by this title (think “poser” of businessmen) I eventually realized that while somewhat patronizing, it’s also a truthful badge of honor about where I am in the process. I am, by every definition, a “want-repreneur,” mostly because I don’t believe my purpose on this planet is to help somebody else actualize their dreams while my own lay dormant. I want to be in control of my own destiny, and ultimately, that means being in charge of my financial gain and work situation. In the meantime, I have to make the best of my need for a consistent paycheck, so I work a day job.
The person I want to be will travel the world and experience different cultures. While the experiences of traveling are hard to “fake,” the desire, motivation, and information I can collect about all the places I want to go, and live, are more easily available then they’ve ever been before. I may not be able to go to Bali later this month, but in the meantime, I can do research into the local communities, see pictures and videos of people visiting Bali, learn about the local cuisine, and pick up tips on places to stay in order to make the traveling experience truly unique. When I get to wherever I want to be, I want it to feel like home. That’s the life I want. I won’t lie to you about where I’ve been (New Zealand!), but I also won’t lie about how badly I want to go to the exotic places I haven’t been yet. (I wanna go to Chile really bad!)
Then there’s money. I’m definitely living paycheck-to-check, but that doesn’t stop me from occasionally picking up a round of drinks. My true desire is to be affluent to a point of actualized creativity. I think there’s an important line to draw here when it comes to “how rich do you want to be?” I don’t want to be rich enough to have 12 sports cars, rather I want to be rich enough to buy all the pieces, and the personal time, to build my own sports car. I don’t want to eat out at restaurants every night, I want to cook at home with the freshest, best ingredients! I don’t want to be rich enough to put people down, I want to be rich enough to pick people up. I don’t want to be rich enough to have priceless art on my walls, I want to be rich enough to make art whenever the inspiration strikes me. That’s priceless. The type of affluence I am striving for is the freedom to create art without boundaries or limitations, until then, I’m having hot ramen for lunch.
But what about happiness? I truly believe sometimes “pretending” is super important when it comes to happiness. If you let every little speed bump knock you around, you would never drive your car. If you let every little conflict, every difference of opinion, every squabble redirect the entire course of your day (and happiness), you will never ever be happy. But if you “pretend” you’re happy, even when you’re not, the low-points won’t seem all that low. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating that you turn into an over-positive psychopath or something, but positivity breeds positivity. Give yourself some perspective and realize all the good in your life. That should make you happy… just a little bit?
So, until that time when I am where I want to be, I will have to follow Vonnegut’s wisdom and just pretend. This post may have pulled back my curtain a little bit, but honestly, I don’t mind. Outside of this post, however, in the real world’s meetings and social gatherings, I will continue to do what I have to do to be perceived as the successful entrepreneur, traveler, intellectual, and financially flush guy to live a great life and create the spur-of-the-moment art as I please. In maintaining that facade of control, the right opportunity may one day present itself to me.
That day, I won’t be pretending… I’ll just be me.