My parents invaded my brain.
So did my teachers, peers, society, the media, everyone.
We laugh at how easily Pavlov's dog tricked into salivating, but many of us don't realize we've been conditioned to view life a certain way since the time we were born.
It makes me laugh to see people so tied to their convictions. If you take the same blue blooded American and started their life over in a different country, with different parents, and a different culture, they'd be different.
We cling to identities we didn't even consciously choose.
I used to believe in the "American Dream." I used to believe if you went to school, got a good job, got married, and bought a house, everything would be fine.
As I grew older, I opened my eyes and grew out of that belief, because I saw so many people who appeared miserable living their lives this way.
Their dreams turned to nightmares. Instead of security and a picket fence, they ended up crushed with debt and living without a sense of purpose.
Someone wrote their script for them, and they didn't see the ironic plot twist coming.
I decided I was going to blaze my own path and do what I wanted to do.
Even then, I fell victim to influence of the Four Hour Work Week variety.
All Good Things Must Come to an End
The internet stock bubble burst in the late 90's.
The housing bubble burst in 2008.
Every period of irrational exuberance is followed by a crash. Now, we're living in the "laptop entrepreneur," boom. Everybody has a blog, a startup, an audience, a platform.
I don't mean to discourage you, but ask yourself, are you just trying to ride the wave because you think you're supposed to, or do you have something you need to say, do, or achieve?
In other words, are you thinking for yourself?
How to Think For Yourself
I don't claim to be "authentic," by any means, I just know I got into writing for reasons that had nothing to do with money or fame, at first.
I had a lot to say, and once I was given a vehicle to say it, I never stopped.
You can start your own business, write a book, start a podcast, sell handmade necklaces on esty, start a one man band on Youtube, or travel with world alone.
Whatever you choose, do it because you want to do it. Not to impress anyone, to ride a wave, or because you think it's cool.
I used to think I was so cool because I was "unique."
I was a contrarian thinker, a rebel, and anti-establishment freedom fighter.
But...I was just regurgitating things I read in books like Rich Dad Poor Dad, The Four Hour Work Week, and the like.
Trying to be different on purpose is conformist, too. Trying to think outside of the box is the most inside-the-box thing you can do.
Just be yourself. Think for yourself. Look at both sides of an argument equally then decide what's right.
Only take pieces of advice you find valuable and discard everything else.
"Madness is rare in individuals -- but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule." Friedrich Nietzsche
The laptop entrepreneurs, free thinkers, and thought leaders all claim to be nonconformist, but when the group of nonconformists conforms to new ideals -- people who work in corporate are soulless robots, internet business is the only way, be a unicorn or be a jackass -- they turn into the same majority they tried escaping from.
The corporate life isn't something I want for myself, but I should respect the fact that some people enjoy it.
I, like you, am barraged with stimulus -- advertisements, peers opinions, people trying to persuade me toward their cause -- and it's up to me to figure out what's best for me.
After careful consideration, I must choose route A, B, or C, and dive in head first, trusting I made the best decision with the information available.
Follow YOUR Dream
You suffer when you ignore your own feelings to follow a dream that's not your own. Even amazing dreams like being a millionaire fall flat if you make the money in a way that makes you miserable along the way.
You have to experiment. You have to try. Use advice from other people to form a hypothesis, test it out, and repeat until you find joy.
In the mean time, don't lose sight of your internal compass, follow the hottest trend just because, and get blended into the crowd.
About the Author
Ayodeji is an author, personal development writer, and wannabe philosopher. You can find a free copy of his Amazon best selling book here.