In the Western World, we are privileged to live a life of comfort and luxury from birth. I was born into a country that had its last hurrah against the west before it crumbled to the sounds of Swan Lake. I never felt deprived during the first 11 years of my life. I had food, a loving family, heat, and a roof over my head.
My parents made a decision to leave their life of post soviet comfort to come to Canada. I am now older than they were when they immigrated and I admire their bravery to leave everything and start over. For freedom. Start over because your country was no longer serving you. The idea of starting over used to make me uncomfortable, but I've beaten it out of my system as I developed my creativity. Now I understand the importance of discomfort.
“Learn to be comfortable in discomfort” is the cliche we've all heard too often, but there's merit to it. We don't push ourselves. We move laterally. We fill our days with noise and distractions and then count the weeks until we can slump down onto a beach in some resort in the Caribbean where we also sit (lay) in comfort and "decompress". We pursue decompression and healing as if our days are filled not sitting at a desk but working on heavy machinery.
We're bored. So bored. We invent friction. We engage in negative behaviour like gossip and self-loathing. We’re like dogs left alone in an apartment who eat the couch because they lack mental stimulation. We numb ourselves with shopping, social media, drama, politics. We strive for nothing. Our existence is meaningless and in the small gap of silence between a YouTube video and a text a fleeting thought of our meaningless existence pushes through. It's painful so we look for a way to numb it. We're excellent at numbing our feelings and emotions.
My parents aren't always happy in their life in the Western World. They romanticize Russia. It has become more than simple nostalgia. At times they toy with the idea of returning but quickly give up that idea because it’s preposterous. I understand why returning home is entertained. It’s a fantasy. An escape from their current meaningless and comfortable existence. They are not striving for a goal or growth like they did when they decided to immigrate. They are bored in their life of luxury.
I used to search for meaning in my existence. I wanted to save the world but fell victim to the idea that "average people" can't save the world. I turned to nihilism and it ate me up from the inside. Why strive for anything? Why even exist at this point? I would catch myself enjoying a film or a video game and then anxiously start thinking, "I gotta find the next one to play."
I created anxiety. I created nihilism. It's not the world outside. It was me. When I finally understood that it all came from me, I knew that I had the power to create positivity in my life. Pessimisticism doesn’t have a special hold over us. It is a choice. Just like optimism. If you want your life to be meaningful, you have to add meaning to it. What it means is unique to every human being. Once you know what it is, you can start going after it. You set goals and stretch yourself. To figure out what brings meaning to you, you will need to sit with no external stimuli. That’s a lot to ask in our day and age, but it is worth it.
Sit with yourself and think. What is the life that you want to lead?