Reading time: 5 minutes
Follow your itch – Unknown
When I was younger, I had this little addiction to buy every single toy my cousins or friends from school wanted. I was always a quiet boy. I believe, now, in my 32 years of age, that they all must have thought I was doing this to cause envy or to make myself look cooler or wealthier than I was. The truth? I was trying to find something in common with these people to make myself feel less like an alien from outer space. I was also trying to make other people happy instead of myself.
They would admit in private conversation that they saw one toy or another, and they wanted it. Sure enough, I would ask my father for it, without really wanting it myself, and then arrived at another reunion with these kids, parading my new treasures right before their eyes. I would bring large backpacks filled with toys. I was probably secretly hated by them on some level. Still, part of me enjoyed watching them play with the toys they wanted and probably would never get because either their families were poor or their parents never listened. Their prospects did not look good.
I continued doing this well into my 20’s when my brother in law suggested a car of a few I was deciding on, and I bought it without giving too much thought about it. Then I would try to justify my decision by saying this like: “This car has better mileage,” or, “The bank would only loan me this one.” That car turned out to be a nightmare, a lemon before I even knew what a lemon was. This sick neonatal of a vehicle was as clear of a sign of a needed change as any.
I let myself become heavily influenced on the music I listened to by my father, brothers, and friends. I would go into a record store thinking of finding the albums they were looking for because I had no idea what I liked. It was easier to follow than to lead. I put on what everyone wanted me to wear, combining my belt to my shoes and tucking in my shirt. I became good at mimicking other people.
Eventually, I started noticing. I would stop myself in my tracks when I was ordering food or deciding what to spend my time on. Instead of following others into watching the movies or shows they wanted to watch, I would lock in my room and indulge in my weirdness. The shows, movies, or music I consumed were not tied to their popularity or some arbitrary ranking anymore. They now were connected to the goosebumps it caused on the back of my neck. I began to develop and trust my instincts. At 20-something, my life began.
I started letting people buy their own toys. The older I got, the less I was involved in other people’s problems. I quit jobs that were bringing in more stress than money and started my own company, against the opinionated opposition of some of those same kids that once shared my toys. That company is growing every single year, while all of them maintain their lives virtually identical. One day, I decided to move to another country, and I did without telling anyone. I liked Elon Musk and his vision for Tesla and SpaceX so much that I bought one of his cars. I wouldn’t be caught dead with a tucked-in shirt now, albeit for the strange special occasion.