We live in a hyper-competitive world today, where the free-flow of information has allowed people to learn many more things from all corners of the globe. As a result, each and every one of us has to expand our horizons more than ever before, to perfect our craft or to become more well-rounded individuals, in order to get a piece of the pie. This pertains to our professional lives, the dating market, or even mastering a hobby. Self-improvement is absolutely necessary if you want to get what you desire.
For example, I’m sure many of you have at some point in your lives been lectured by an older person from the previous generation about the importance of getting a traditional education and developing that humble work ethic. Work ethic is a timeless quality that each one of us should aspire for, but the traditional route of education is not. Unfortunately, things have changed during our generation, and life is far less straightforward than it used to be before the 2000’s. Most of us can no longer follow the simple formula of getting a bachelor’s degree and landing a stable, high-paying job, because many university degrees today are nearly worthless due to the dilution in quality. Post-secondary systems today care more about collecting tuition than actually providing the necessary educational challenges to produce high-quality graduates. The middle class is disappearing as wage increases have not matched inflation rates in the past two decades (see James Altucher’s book, Choose Yourself). As a result, we have to adapt, scavenge, and expand. We have to take absolute control of our lives more than ever before, or society will.
Fortunately, with this age of instant gratification comes the ease with which we can obtain information – useful information that can help us diversify our skillset and grow as individuals faster than ever before. You just have to be willing to play the game.
I come across a lot of people who are not willing to play the game. For example, someone would tell me that they have always been lacking in confidence and it’s impossible for them to act differently, and as a result they would never get a decent-looking girlfriend. It surprises me that so many people still go by this “born this way and will always be this way” mentality. If you are one of these people, then make sure to read on.
Our brains have plasticity, and that allows us to learn new information, apply such information repeatedly, and eventually remould our brains to be the new way we are. Practice make perfect. This is not only restricted to technical skills such as playing piano or basketball – it works the same way for what we often consider “character traits”. The most important thing is to believe that such a change is indeed possible (and it is, trust me).
For example, if you are introverted and shy around people, then you need to learn new information that would help adjust this trait, and commit to it. As an exercise, you can intentionally gather the courage to say hi to strangers every day, or maybe you can attend public speaking workshops. There are also many resources online that teach you ways to overcome social anxiety, etc. At the end of the day, you may still be the person that enjoys his alone time, but you could still use the social skills you’ve learned and apply them when you are out, as long as you decide to play the game. I went through such a transformation myself, from super shy ESL kid, to nice guy who people liked, to fly Asian brother, and I will describe my transformation in a future post.
If you are still not convinced, then put the two options side-by-side and compare the pros and cons.
Option 1: shy and socially awkward, what does it bring you? Most likely: loneliness, a small group of similar friends, not standing out from the rest of the (majority) shy Asian male population, and very little (if any) attention from females. You might desire the cute white girl in your class but simply do not believe it’s possible. This is living life passively.
Option 2: outgoing and confident, what does it bring you? Most likely: popularity (naysayers can argue that it’s shallow, but we all love the feeling of being popular), a larger and diverse group of friends, and most importantly, getting NOTICED. In a world of 7 billion people, you can bet that getting noticed is a damn good thing. Being outgoing and able to market yourself is the first step, even if in your case all it means is you simply want your secret crush to know who you are. This is living life assertively!
Now that we’ve laid things side-by-side for comparison, ask yourself again, which life do you want? I promise you, a change of what you have known as your character is 100% possible. All you have to do is to dedicate yourself to the task, find the necessary information, and act on it. Your friends might tell you, “Oh just be yourself and everything will work out!” That is the worst possible advice and the number one superficial bullshit statement you will get in today’s Western society. Take control of your destiny by improving yourself. Because if you don’t, someone else will, and they will take what you want.
Be a better Asian brother.