Hacking The System.
Though exceptionally trite, there is staggering merit to the phrase: “in life, you can be anything you want to be” — you just have to figure out how.
We all grow up wanting to be something. A figure skater; a professional photographer; a firefighter; a pro-wrestler; a film maker; a mountain climber. However, somewhere along the way, an extreme sense of “adulting” takes over and we begin to put aside our dreams and aspirations for things that we “believe” (or more like, “are told”) are more "realistic". But what happened to the dreams we had in the first place?
When I was young, I used to watch a lot of Japanese cartoons (also known as anime*) about various inspiring individuals who were recognized as the pinnacle of both spirituality and martial arts. Naturally, I thought to myself, “I could never become one of those characters, as it takes a great deal of self-discipline and luck to become one of them... and after all, it's only a cartoon.” As I grew older and the “adulting" began to kick in, I naturally went to school for both University and Post Graduate studies, being the son of traditional Asian parents. Alas, what they don’t tell you in school, despite all of that "learning", is that this sense of “adulting” is just an illusion to suppress the childlike you from achieving what you once believed was possible. This was also about the same time I began to fall in love with photography and videography. But again, there was no clearly defined path to figuring out how to make a living off of these interests. And the ones who had, like my Japanese anime idols, had to have had some exceptional skill or bout of fortune to get them to where they were.
Enter: other aspirants who are much more famous, and thereby “more successful”, in their endeavours...
Jimmy Chin — A world-renowned mountain climber and photographer. Lived in his car at Yosemite National Park for 7 years honing his craft.
Casey Neistat — One of the most famous YouTube vloggers to date. Spent an average of 10+ years hustling to make films and provide a living for his son who he had at the age of 16.
Georges St. Pierre (GSP) — UFC Welterweight legend, holding one of the longest title defences in UFC history. Couldn’t speak a word of english, but still managed to make it from Montreal to New York City every weekend in order to learn at Renzo Gracie’s Academy.
Joey L — Globetrotting documentary photographer and filmmaker, documenting within some of the most dangerous settings; extending from the Amazon to Syria. Started off by shooting local bands and his toy dinosaur collection in his home town of Lindsay, Ontario. Then saved up enough money to go travel to India and shoot various Babas to build up his documentary portfolio.
Each one of these seemingly amazing individuals has figured something very profound out about life. Hard work and dedication will allow you to hack-the-system of society and secure a foothold for who you want to be in this world. Each of these seemingly impossible stories, not used as a source of envy, but as a source of inspiration in order to help guide you where you want to go in life.
Having now achieved multiple black belts (my 4th degree Mastery in one of them); my highest achievable yoga certification; a podcast to reach the masses; a collection of photos and videos taken on numerous world travels; and becoming a creative advisor for numerous clients, I can now say that I have only just begun to peel back the layers of who I was told I was (my “adulting” self) into who I knew I was meant to be (my authentic, “kid” self).
Granted, that’s not to say the journey was easy or is easy. It was, and continues to be, filled with many moments of doubt, uncertainty, and panic. And that’s also not to say it was straight forward, either. I had bounced around from idea to idea, just trying to make it as an “adult”; only to eventually realize that this idea of "being an adult" was simply an illusion propelled forward by an outcome-based, product-driven society. And that’s also not to say that I can be the only one to follow my dreams. Everyone can, it’s just a matter of figuring out how.
Thus, for you, the eager reader, I have come up with a series of principles which I believe to be the most important for realizing who you are; who your kid-self once dreamed you to be:
(1) Become a fierce autodidact. An autodidact is someone who learns for themselves without the need for any organized systems. This is probably one of the most important tools in becoming who you want to be in this world, if only because anyone who offers you up an opinion, often has never done what you are asking advice for in the first place. Learn for yourself; everything is possible.
(2) Have immense self-discipline. Do you really want to be who you were meant to be? Then it takes work, it takes commitment, and it takes the discipline to not only become self-taught, but to also follow through on your goals.
(3) Seek out constant inspiration. There’s a reason why I knew of the other amazing individuals’ stories, such that I could reference them in this article. Constantly seek out other sources of inspiration; people who are on the same path as you, to help you figure out how to get there as well (YouTube is great for this!). These people won’t provide you an opinion, they will provide you a strategy — Why? Because they’ve been there. So, listen to them.
(4) Constantly become your own beacon for self-motivation. No one, and I mean NO ONE, is going to walk this path for you. You must do it for yourself. And because of that, you had better be prepared to pick yourself up when you’re down and keep yourself going towards what you believe is possible. Because it is possible, it’s all possible, it just takes immense work (or, in the case of following your dreams: play).
So, there you have it. The complete guide to hacking-the-system. The funny part is that when you really look at it, it’s not hacking at all. It’s simply believing in and pushing yourself hard enough to figure out how to get what you want done, done. It’s a reprogramming and repatterining of your own psyche, your own mind. For, at the end of the day, the only one holding you back in your life is you. You are the purveyor of your own existence; you are the only one walking in your shoes. So, get out there and go get it — you’ve only got so little time to waste!