Self-Fulfillment and Growing Up


Today is the day I turn 27. Years ago, I had expected to feel older by that age, more like I imagined the grown-ups to feel when I was a child, but I don’t.

When they say “you should grow up”, they want you to become boring. Because the grown-up stuff consists of getting a job and decent salary, finding a partner in life, maybe building a house – the classic dream of my parents and their parents alike. Seldom do folks tell you to find your destiny and fulfill your dreams (unless they are about having a house, a car, …).

Lots of my peers share this dream. I don’t, though. I don’t think having a house is something good in itself. It’s just a means, but it’s not a suitable means to my ends (at the moment). My peers long for superficial joys in life: eat sugary things and fast-food, drink to elevation and beyond on the weekends, sleep late whenever possible, buy and own the latest gadget or the most fashionable clothes. I can’t relate to that. So I got used to solitude. I don’t feel lonely, though, because there are (a very few) important people in my life which I do deeply care about, and to whom I can connect. I guess my dreams are different than most people’s.

Photo Credit: scragz via Compfight cc

During my twenties, I have learned so far that I have to lead a life worthy of my own principles. I learned that I should be my own master. I also have learned that I am not the center of the universe. I am the only person I can change. At some point through the years, my attitude shifted: I want to give to others, to proactively do good unto them. Don’t change to lead a more pleasurable and selfish life. Change to become a better person, who in turn can make other people’s life better. No need to hunt for sugary pleasures, there’s something else to chase after.

In order to perform best, my life turns out to sound pretty boring nowadays. Looked at from the outside, it doesn’t seem fun. Well, it isn’t meant to be fun. It’s meant to be fulfilling, and I love what I do. Thinking for oneself makes one free – and I’m free to restrain my actions by moral standards to really live a life of freedom: freedom from external constraints, freedom from addictive appetites, freedom from dependency on others. (That’s one kind of negative freedom. Positively, I’m free to choose my schedules, routines, and habits. I’m free to choose parts of my own character.)

To let you peek into my boring life, take a look at a typical day’s schedule. 4 out of 7 days of each week look like this:

  • Get up at 7:00.
  • Morning Routine until around 8:00, consisting of: stretching, meditation, and a 15 minute bodyweight workout.
  • Creative work until 11:00. Might be writing, might be programming. Do a short work break every 20 minutes, where I get up and move around, do a handstand or something like that.
  • Strength training at 12:00 for something under an hour. Big salad with broth instead of dressing afterwards.
  • By 14:30, I should be home again and well-fed. More work. Usually, I have come up with an idea to continue where I left in the morning.
  • Evening snack at 16:00: 6 boiled eggs or about 300g fish. A bowl of frozen berries, a few nuts.
  • More work after 17:00, but mostly light work. I can’t do a lot of heavy thinking at this time of day, but I can respond to mails or do repetitive work.
  • Cardio (HIIT or circuit training) at 20:00. Stretching and foam-rolling without any foam but with a log instead (self-massaging, so to speak) afterwards.
  • Last meal at or before 22:00. The big one. Typically, I’d eat 500g of meat, mostly lamb or beef or chicken.
  • Go to bed between 23:00 and 24:00 to get at least 7 hours of sleep.

That’s my plan for every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. My food averages 4000+ kcal per day.

On Wednesdays and Saturdays, I fast until late in the afternoon (21:00 and 18:00, respectively) and do sprint training only.

Sunday is my day off. That’s my cheat meal day, too: the only day I eat breakfast, and the only day I eat loads of fruit and cheese and whatnot. Don’t ask what my so-called energy intake is on Sundays, I’d rather not know.

Still, I don’t eat garbage on Sundays; stuff like pizza, noodles, or anything made of grain, really. I avoid fast food, and I avoid food with more than a handful of ingredients because I don’t want to poison myself on my day off. Living this way for a few years, eating of the ‘forbidden stuff’ will indeed make me feel like I’m poisoned. Pizza can make my stomach ache, and grain and sugar make me feel like I’m drunk.

I could re-adapt to these ingredients, but then I’d lose some of my every-day benefits: never be tired in the afternoon, always be focused and wide awake, perform on a level higher than most other folks do. Instead of putting me down, my food nourishes me. That’s worth more than any short-term pleasure candy bars provide to quick-fix emotional downs.

All in all, there’s not much room for so-called fun activities. I don’t go out a lot during the week since I don’t enjoy mindless chatter or small-talk. Instead, I take pleasure in deep conversations: I see my girlfriend a lot during the week, and I spend some time each day with my pal and flat mate Sascha (the one I mentioned on this blog some times already), as we share a similar schedule and work on the same projects. Additionally, I meet friends and family on weekends. This recharges my social batteries so I can easily survive the week in relative solitude.

I can’t say I miss anything.

All of my restrictions are ultimately self-imposed. That, in turn, prevents that I feel restricted at all. Imposing restrictions upon yourself is liberating, because these boundaries are yours and yours only. As strange as it sounds, I found to constrain my own actions by my own standards gave me a heightened sense of control. (Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa provide similar benefits, agreed. Only I open up possibilities to become better mentally, physically, and spiritually. You could say I have orthorexia, or that I can’t not do what I think is right, which is also kind of impairing. Then you’d be missing the point of moral, though.)

In return, I feel healthier than ever before. I am more creative and I have enough energy to work on my projects day after day. That means a lot to me, because I can publish and share with you what I find out. I can create software applications which help you become a better You. Being able to do what I love and giving back something to all of humanity, piece by piece, truly is a gift. I’m glad for that.

So I turn out to be kind of block-headed about my day-to-day life. I was kind of a loner during my teens as well. Over the years, I changed perspective: I don’t feel excluded from their activities anymore (the cool kids or the soccer players). Now I find they can’t join me on my path. The difference is that today I know I’m not left behind but walk my own path instead.

In your twenties, they say, you start to think that you’re the center of the world, feeling so potent that you become full of hubris but without any clue what life is about. “Once you reach my age …!”, exclaimed to make you feel childish and not knowing shit about the world. But what most of the elder mean when they start to put you down like this is: you should stop chasing any dreams at all and settle on ‘realistic’ goals. Goals which don’t push your comfort zone. Goals which are easy to achieve. Just so you don’t get on their nerves and blend in with the crowd.

Sometimes I wonder if I really miss out on something, being part of the crowd and all. I don’t really think I do. I got the opportunity to find fulfillment through craft, a gift most of my peers don’t have. I became a writer on the way, and I’m working on a book like I always wanted. I write software I love to use myself. Above all, I can give (and receive!) love every day through interacting with the ones closest to my heart. We are a little tribe here, and no one is going to be left behind. We care for each other, and we care for other people, too. I do care about you, too. The rest of life is samsara.

Now go listen to The Boss perform “Growing Up” and enjoy your day.

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