Bravery is the ability to move forward with fear looking us right in the eyes. But while Bravery can be inspired by the world around us, nobody can give it to us. We need to find it and feel it ourselves. We all know the feeling. We have all experienced a form of bravery before, but what then is fear? Or should we ask, whom is it that we fear?
Tim and Andrew of the site Wait But Why recently wrote an inspiring post where they helped me realize who I fear: I fear the Mammoth.
Who is this "Social Survival" Mammoth? Tim and Andrew explain it as, "An irrational and unproductive obsession with what other people think of us."
Photo courtesy of Wait But Why.
They explain that the Mammoth, as its name would imply, is a relic from our early years as humans when our survival depended on tribal living and the acceptance of our actions by others. In our society we are continually convinced that our happiness and survival depend on 'feeding' this Mammoth, pleasing others, and living up to their expectations of who we are and what we should become.
Society has evolved to accommodate this mammoth-feeding frenzy, inventing things like accolades and titles and the concept of prestige in order to keep our mammoths satisfied -- and often to incentivize people to do meaningless jobs and live unfulfilling lives they wouldn't otherwise consider taking part in."
I still find myself struggling -- battling with my own ambition, my own understanding of happiness, and my own measures of success. This is a war, me vs. the mammoth, and I am ill-prepared and unarmed. I stand stripped of everything, facing a colossal mammoth that I've fed alongside the world around me. I fear the mammoth because it's massive, because much of the world believes in him over me, and because I don't know exactly where he ends and my own authentic self begins.
In 2009 we wrote the Holstee Manifesto for ourselves and no one else. It was our authentic voices and thoughts, written as a reminder to our future selves incase we ever lost track of what was truly important to us. In 2012 it took the internet by storm: viewed an estimated 100 million times, translated into 13 languages, and hung everywhere from shop stalls in Nairobi to luxury boutiques in Brazil. To this day it continues to be what we are best known for and our most popular product. It brought us attention, money, invitations to events -- ironically, feeding an ever growing mammoth inside of me. I found myself losing grip of my authentic voice, and instead was caught up in a world of "shoulds": we "should" do this, we "should" do that. It took me a couple years to land back on my feet and regain a sense of connection to my real desires, passions, and what I really wanted to offer to the world and back to Holstee. (More on that to come...)
I may not be able to slay this mammoth in one daring attack, but I do stand a chance if I am able to shrink it down and regain control of it. I can do that by spending time with the people that truly care about me at my most basic and authentic level, by spending time alone listening to my thoughts, and writing journal entries like this to help me express my deepest thoughts without concerning myself with how it's received.
Thank you Tim, Andrew, and each of you who read this post; you've reminded me what bravery feels like.
Further reading: Taming The Mammoth: Why You Should Stop Caring What Other People Think
Dave Radparvar is a Co-founder and Creative Director at Holstee. He loves making things with his hands and starring at stars in the sky.