We live in the age of information overload. In fact I’m sure many of us have information anxiety attacks – “I don’t know enough, I’ll be left behind if I don’t keep up with the 4,000 websites that I must read, that guy/gal in the office is better informed so I must catch up, I won’t be considered smart enough if I didn’t know what the latest Android version was, I must have all the answers on the tip of my tongue because that’s my assured path to nirvana” – and we’ve forgotten how to wind down. Getting wound up is easy. :).
Up until a few months ago I was reading articles and blogs and consuming information on the internet voraciously. I don’t regret it at all. A lot of the stuff that I came upon am thankful for and I thank my innate and intrinsic curiosity for giving me the appetite to consume information. I subscribed to newsletters left, right and centre. Seth Godin, Neil Patel, James Clear, Jonathan Fields, Marie Forleo, Terri Cole, Change Blog, Accidental Creative, Tara Mohr, Mind, Body, Green, Positively Positive, Fast Company, Brain Pickings, James Altucher and so on. I was reading most of the emails regularly. Then came a time where I couldn’t keep pace. Work, other hobbies and interests and the daily routine of life took over. I do have a habit of keeping my InBox “Read” and clean and usually have no “pending” emails to be read or answered. But when the subscriptions became overwhelming and the InBox usually had “129 Unread” under Primary, “44 Unread” under Updates, “98 Unread” under Promotions, I knew that just deleting emails was not getting me anywhere. My list of “unreads” were just getting longer and I was beginning to feel the pressure and my mind was tending to worry and get distressed.
Just seeing the sheer number of emails piling up every single day, I was straining at the bit and wanted to be free of this leash.
Come New Year and I decided to just get rid of all the emails I hadn’t read. I knew I wouldn’t if I hadn’t in over 3 months, there was no point in letting it occupy InBox real estate. There was no RoI in that. And I unsubscribed to quite a few newsletters.
What did I do instead? I just started taking time out whenever possible to go to those individual websites and read the blogs and articles directly. Subscriptions weren’t really essential and they clogged up free passage of thought, just like clogged pores. I must confess though, that even today I am still subscribed to Seth Godin and many others. They’re beginning to tire me out. They are prolific, they’re smart, and blogging is part of their business and it generates revenue in some form or the other. They’ve got a following, they’re cross-selling and promoting people or businesses through their blogs, their own books of course, their workshops, their speaking assignments and so on.
My life isn’t Seth Godin’s or James Altucher’s. I ain’t like them, and that’s why I have 50 followers, no comments and no search engine rankings. I might write for eons and decades and have only 50 or 40 or 30 or no followers at all. I write because I like to.
Of course having more of an audience would boost my ego, but I have no fantastical insights and wisdom and genius to generously throw at those who read – unlike these geniuses. I do write for a living, which is content writing , marketing content writing and I have to hustle for work and literally mind my own business. I don’t have the acumen or the financial wherewithal to have virtual assistants like Marie Forleo does. Granted she didn’t build her Rome in day. But the point is I’m not them. I don’t have it in me to give that kind of time to blogging or starting some kind of online fan club and spin out multi-million dollar businesses such as Marie Forleo’s B-school and get a dose of Daily Love or “consulting gigs” on how to get 1,000 followers in 100 days and so on. At the end of it all what I’ve realised is this:-
a) everyone, every single one of us is selling something – if not a tangible product or service, perhaps an idea, even if it’s the idea of God or goodness or religion. I’m selling my writing ability, some inherent insights. Why? Because we all want to be appreciated and recognised and acknowledged and hailed as the “next big” phenomenon and ride the wave to success. Perhaps we think it will liberate us and take us to a place that we don’t know but have dreamed of where the paparazzi loves us and money is flowing like manna from heaven and we’re good and great at the same time. Really? I don’t know. Maybe that’s the purpose of us all being human. I’d say, read, learn and subscribe to smartness, unsubscribe from trying to do exactly as “they” say. Chart your own path and learn along the way.
b) each of us has our own path, our own blueprint of life. Hence I can’t be like Oprah or Ellen Degeneres or Miss Universe or Marie Curie or Helen of Troy or Michelle Obama or Angela Merkel or Christine Lagarde or Serena Williams or Brene Brown. Hell, I can’t even be like my own mother. I should find my own level and revel in my own uniqueness. And the entire search is perhaps our purpose. Or is the search our eternal curse of being human and dissatisfied with the One Life we have to live? Hmmm…there’s a thought.
And pray tell me, why should I be yet another Oprah? She’s one in a billion and once you’ve experienced a phenomenon, why would you want to experience it again? Same is boring no? Explore, discover and subscribe to your unique soul music, unsubscribe from playing someone else’s harmony.
c) it’s great to read and learn from these people’s experiences. But hey, you know what?! You ain’t gonna achieve nothin’ honey if you ain’t gonna get your butt off your couch and DO something about it. No wonder my butt got so big, for I’ve been sitting on it for so long, I forgot what it means to actually get something done. I love slurping over all the feel good positively positive, “how to keep your relationship going even after 50 years”, “how to forgive and see your life change”, “how to boost traffic on your website in 5 days”, “how to design a life without regrets” kind of articles. But they’re someone else’s ideas and while they’re to be respected for their intrinsic value, it’s time to cherish what you bring to the table. You.So unsubscribe from other people’s opinions, subscribe to your own experiences.
Someone somewhere said Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans. Time to make plans for your life, do your thing, write your song, create your imprint, leave your footprint, dance to your own tune, wear your own hair, revel in your own skin, clap your hands in joy at your own face and feel the power of being you, just you.
Whole, gorgeous and enough. Look in the mirror and smile back at the twinkling eyes and the lopsided smile and the crooked tooth or the pimple-scarred skin or the bulbous nose or the bald head or the fat thighs. They don’t matter. What matters is who you are not what you see. What matters is what you feel.
Right now give yourself a hug. Feel the adrenaline. It may work, it may not. If it doesn’t, unsubscribe from the lesson.Unsubscribe from comparison, apathy and a cluttered InBox. Subscribe to your dreams. Subscribe to your life. Subscribe to the gift that you are. Because life is more than just signing into subscriptions. Right?