When we are at an Italian restaurant for the first time and can barely pronounce anything on the menu, we stick with what sounds familiar. This happens not just with food, but a lot of decisions we make in our lives. These decisions keep us safe in our comfort zones and away from the unknown.
We hear contradicting advises all the time. “be yourself..your professional self” . “Learn to adapt but know who you are”. All of these advises are encouraging us to find an optimal point between the known and the unknown. A lot of times life puts us in a situation where we have an option of choosing between what we are familiar with or taking the unfamiliar route. Perks of known is you know your consequences and unknown is well..you don’t know. Fun of life is finding what makes you happy by trial and error and having the courage to accept the error when things don’t work out. Because you will always have that voice in your head or someone who pretends to be close to you who wants to feel better about them self at times when you are feeling down to say “told you so”. Don’t listen to that voice or that person.
Adapting isn’t fun in the beginning, but it helps us evolve our worldview. I hopped continents while transitioning into adolescence age to inner city Chicago and then moved out for college while belonging to a family/cultural background where girls don’t move out until they get married. It took a combination of stubbornness, feeling like an impostor at times but not thinking too much about what will happen next and having the courage to follow what felt right. I gave you an example of times where I chose the unknown. There has been times where I stuck with good ol’ shrimp tempura at sushi restaurants because who the heck wants to eat an eel.
Sometimes adapting for the sake of adapting and fitting in can be painful. So a good tool to carry in your backpack while taking this hike called life is pay attention to what and who makes you happy. Notice I said what before who, because what you choose to read, listen, consume and practice helps you get close to figuring out who you are and what makes you happy. And once you have a strong sense of self you automatically know who to surround yourself with and what bridges to burn. This in turn will help you be yourself in an environment where you have to constantly adapt but can maintain your peace. If you find yourself stuck in old ways, people, afraid to try the unfamiliar then ask yourself, are you happy and doing everything in your power to be happy? And if the answer is no, then order something you can’t pronounce off of that menu but read/look up the ingredients to know if you’ll like it. Since the goal is to optimize, know yourself and what makes you happy but don’t be afraid of stepping outside of your comfort zone.