How Fear & Loathing Can Be Motivating
I’ll admit I’m a magazine junkie and even more addicted to interviews with the people I admire, or who I didn’t realize I admire. I don’t watch Ryan Murphy’s shows (Glee, American Horror Story), but I was struck by his casual badassness and unrelenting attitude in he and Sarah Paulson’s profile in Elle. This part blew me away:
“I grew up in a very anesthetized home,” he says, “so I was drawn to watching or reading or smelling or having sex—anything that made me feel like, ‘Oh, I’m…alive.’ ” His mother was “a failed actress and a beauty queen” who worked at various retail jobs. His father was the district sales manager for the Indianapolis Star News; he’d wanted to be a lawyer, but was too afraid to take the bar. “I grew up in this house with broken dreams, and I remember thinking, ‘You know what? Fuck it. I would rather fail than be miserable,’ ” he says. “So I have applied that philosophy to my career. I am not going to do anything unless I am afraid of it.”
The environment I grew up in was far from Murphy’s, but his attitude is applicable at any time in life. If you know me, you’ll know that early in life I managed to achieve a comfortable job in sales that was just as lucrative as it was unbearable. It drove me into an existential crisis that turned my life around for the better. Rock Candy Media wouldn’t exist if I thought a comfortable life was good enough.
Inertia is a constant enemy. You need to have an innate discomfort with settling in to keep moving forward.
You often hear about highly successful people being dissatisfied or unhappy in spite of their success. People always wonder how someone who has wealth, fame, etc. could be anything but overjoyed. I actually think the two are closely connected. Isn’t it their inability to be satisfied with their current situation that leads them to keep striving for better? The agony can be necessary for achievement.
This might sound depressing, but again I think it’s the opposite. Settling for less is worse than trying and failing, and sometimes you need that dread to motivate yourself to say “fuck it” and work for your dreams.