How to shed skin
Shedding is uncomfortable
I don't know what the purpose of life is, but I know I feel most invigorated when I rise up to meet a grand challenge that is scary and important. Every single time I've been proud of myself it has been because I accomplished something I didn't think I could do.
This inherently means that if we want to live a life full of tackling challenges that we don't think we can do, we must live in constant difficulty, which is not an easy mindset to adopt. Volunteering for hardship is not something that we can do once or twice and see the results, it's a never ending process. You know what's easier than this? Literally everything. While American culture makes us think we can and should buy comfort, it's pretty clearly obvious that this is not the correct path
Worse, our social groups will most likely make big change feel abnormal. People get an opinion of who you are and what you're capable of pretty quickly and then they treat you as if you will always be that person. If you want to change you have to change in the face of their understanding of what you are, which not easy. This sort of social baggage is heavy, it compounds to create what feels like a very comfortable skin, one we don't even notice, and before too long we forget what wearing new skin feels like.
Have you ever watched a snake shed its skin? It requires picking, scratching, and pulling to remove and it rarely comes off in one smooth action, it is an uncomfortable process. It isn't comfortable for your friends, family, or social group either because they have grown accustomed to this very comfortable dynamic you have together. Humans may not shed exactly like a snake but just because we don't have the same physical process doesn't mean that the metaphysical process isn't just as important. Shedding layers of dead skin for us might be leaving a town you're done with, ending toxic relationships, quitting a job you hate, or getting physically fit.
"Ready must you be to burn yourself in your own flame, how can you become something new if you have not first become ashes" - Friedrich Nietzsche
The end of brokeisachoice
Since 2017 I've been writing a blog called "Brokeisachoice" where I would discuss my journey towards financial freedom through real estate. As time went on I found myself writing less and less about finance and real estate and more about life, purpose, and American culture. I found that I enjoyed taking pictures, talking about philosophy, and telling stories about people more than helping people make money, there are better people to learn how to make money from than me anyway.
In 2022 I wrote less than I ever have before and it was weighing on me. The problem was two fold - first, I grew frustrated with the site name "brokeisachoice", and not because I don't believe that being broke is a choice or the mantra (being broke is still a choice) but it just no longer represented what I was doing or talking about. Secondly, the guy who built and maintained my website started ghosting me - so the site started to look and feel stale.
These are really lousy excuses to avoid writing - a passion of mine - but I had become comfortable with the situation. I didn't have a better site name and I didn't have a better designer....these type of lousy excuses are exactly why we need to endure the uncomfortable problem of shedding skin regularly. A friend of mine and I created Life and Lens in 2021 as a means to collect income off my camera work, it never really went anywhere and she bailed on the project anyway. This site already existed so I transferred some old blogs here and just got back to writing. Now I'm here, and it's uncomfortable to get back in the habit.....
What is the real alternative? I could live with a web platform and name I don't want to write on and avoid it forever, but who wins?
What about you?
How long are you going to stay in a relationship you're not happy with?
How long are you going to take shit from that boss you loathe?
How many years are you going to lie to yourself about getting in shape?
Moving to Maui
I'm pretty good at shedding skin, I've changed social circle more times than I can count, I've found new hobbies well into adulthood, I've left behind terrible jobs, bosses, and relationships, and I've moved plenty of times. I'm currently in the process of moving to Maui - which is what prompted me to write this
A little backstory
I left in Las Vegas in late 2019, I loved Las Vegas but I had a long term relationship I had to end and I had a job I was super bored with. It was just time to shed, so I came back to North Carolina and while I've gotten some things done (I flipped some houses, I bought some apartment buildings, I created my "Meet the Investor" YouTube series for BiggerPockets) but in many ways I've felt mostly stagnant 3 years.
I didn't find a social circle that I felt like I was deeply part of and I never found a big project to work on. I'm a hyper extrovert so my stability relies on having people around daily, and most of my projects were solo. The dynamic was just not working for me
Then "sort of" out of the blue I was asked to move to Maui and be a full time creative director for a new company called BetterLife. I had been traveling the world and using my camera to make people look cool for a few years now so I knew this was what my future was likely going to look like.
I'll have to say goodbye to some friends, I'll have to sell/donate/store most of our house and move in to a 600sqft hole in Hawaii, certainly not a bad life to say yes to, but it's an extremely expensive tiny apartment and the vast majority of people would say no. Why? Because it's extremely uncomfortable.
The thing about shedding skin is you'll grow new skin immediately. Humans have a ridiculous ability to adapt and find comfort in a new normal yet we still adamantly resist change, even when it's traveling to fascinating places, moving to Hawaii, or getting the chance for a dream job.
You can move back, your friends will always be happy for your new opportunity and they will always welcome you back if you change your mind, and you'll find ways to be just as happy in 600sqft as you would in 2600.
The advice that I always knew but never heard
What do old people list as their biggest regrets? Some common ones are - not saying how you feel, not being honest with themselves or others, not traveling enough, not taking care of their body, not taking chances
It's all the same theme - staying too comfortable
A few weeks ago I had a moment with my mother, and a separate but similar moment Miss Kate's grandmother. While discussing the Maui move with my mom she says "when I was 20 years old my brother moved to California and I was going to go with him but then I got pregnant with you and we stayed here". "Here" is Rhode Island, a place they lived from birth until they were over 60 and she said while she didn't regret staying she did wonder what life would be like if they went. Kate's Nana said something similar about her life - that they had chances to leave and grow but chose to stay in place.
I can't speak for anyone but me, but staying in the same place for long periods of time does not make a for a full life. I want to experience as much of the world as possible and that means learning and living cultures of various kind and location. Based on the regrets listed by people at the twilight of their life and the comments from my family members I can only assume that I will feel the same, and that you will feel the same too.
Don't put it off, don't regret, shed that skin, get uncomfortable