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Becoming Ordinary to Be ExtraOrdinary

Chasing the extraordinary can be an exhilarating and a daunting experience. This account contains takeaways from my endeavors at becoming extraordinary filled with pretentiously sagacious quotes.


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Ribhu Nirek

3 years ago | 5 min read

It’s an old saying that practice makes perfect. A wise soul who realized that iterations yield improvement might have concluded that a lot of improvements are perceived as perfection and ended up with that adage.

Why is it that despite the truth is out there, not everyone can grab this fruit? Do they not desire it? Do they not want it that bad? Or is it the case that not everyone deserves their “golden apple”?

I do not have a ready-to-eat answer. I have aimed to be extraordinary for as long as my memory serves me. And that desire is still burning like the Sun. Yet, the number of endeavors that resulted in success doesn’t please my heart nor does the extent of success.

A few sticking points from my approach pattern is obvious: I crave to become the best, in the shortest time possible, with an outcome being guaranteed while also staying in my comfort zone or changing my identity drastically. In my own experience, that hasn’t yielded satisfactory results.

Let’s tackle them one at a time. Wishing to be the best or extraordinary is an admirable goal. But before becoming extraordinary, I got to become ordinary. Nearly all the time I wish to skip the part of becoming ordinary for the simple reason of not being one in the herd.

I fancifully dream of reaching the top without struggling in the race with the crowd; I look for a fast lane. I have realized that not only is this approach impractical, but also irrational. How can one become a great writer without becoming a writer first, or become a successful fitness icon before becoming a fitness enthusiast? The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Wise Quote Src: brainyquote
Wise Quote Src: brainyquote

Can I have the road to glory in a straight path, in the shortest time humanly possible without any detours? Sure, if it were a B-grade entertaining movie catered for 13-year old dreamy high school kids then yes. That isn’t life though. JK Rowling had to get rejected scores of times before a publication got interested in her writings.

Grant Cardone worked his ass off till the age of 45 without focusing on extra pleasures in life, it was when he hit a million dollars in his bank account to achieve his goal of financial independence and then he could do the things he desired to do in life.

What makes me think I am going to get it quick and easy if I haven’t had it until now? Truth accepted: Becoming worthy of success and achieving success takes time. Patience is a virtue. Sometimes the fastest way to go farther ahead in life is by slowing down.

My current guess is that more time is spent in the former process, of becoming worthy by doing ordinary things, and then the latter outcome presents itself as the reward for completing an enduring journey.

Becoming worthy of success and achieving success takes time. Patience is a virtue. Sometimes the fastest way to go farther ahead in life is by slowing down

Risks… It would be great if I knew which bets I would win in life. This way I would win every time I played. There is a strong human tendency for risk aversion. We feel our losses more strongly than our wins. As Anne Frank eloquently said, “Regret is stronger than gratitude”.

This is one of the moments where our rational agents should take over to talk to the emotional self. In many situations in life, we gotta make a decision and act on it. Sometimes it has to be quick.

Although I believe that the bigger decisions of our lives are influenced significantly by our motivations and personality, which in turn is an effect of numerous ordinary actions and not an effect of a tiny action. Circumstances force us to take action. An act of inaction is in fact making a decision, of choosing not to act.

A good risk analysis should inform us not only of the expected loss to be incurred by undertaking a particular action but also that of inaction. Usually, doing something is better than doing and thinking nothing. This is one truth that is easier said than done as it requires the will and courage to act, to shake yourself up from negative thoughts beating procrastination.

Furthermore, it’s not just about acting but also the appetite for taking risks which determines progress. Generally walking along trodden paths makes us feel safer and less alone — working a side job you’re passionate about without much pay, trying a new restaurant, or a trendy hairstyle you’re not used to might give you goosebumps. However, these excursions can be worth it. Going the mainstream way has diminishing returns in both progress and pleasure. Because practice makes us better accustomed to activities, we need to explore and try novel experiences to improve and enjoy the process. This inevitably involves risk and uncertainty. Whereas not doing so ensures the saturation of progress. Exploration involves risk, it requires courage, excitement, and the will to learn and adapt.

The topic of changing oneself is very intriguing. Improving your life while staying in the comfort zone all the time is a paradox. Change is a prerequisite to self-improvement and by the definition of change, it necessitates changing some fundamental nature of yourself.

It is not possible to change and not change at the same time. Therefore, self-improvement comes at the cost of breaking patterns from your current lifestyle that are not conducive to long-term success.

That is rather overwhelming. Is it possible to improve while not changing yourself altogether? Yes, it is possible to be taking the steps pragmatically, enjoying the simple pleasures of life, and working sincerely. I surmise the key lies in stretching the comfort zone imperceptibly yet consistently. Implementing this strategy of self-improvement can be a challenge for hot-blooded driven personalities like myself.

A change or growth in my mind means something humongous, altering my essential nature, transforming into the persona that I desire to embody and become. Oftentimes I discard small ounces of growth as petty and meaningless. Over time, I have become aware of this faulty thought pattern.

My ambition of reaching the top clouds my judgment to sense the incremental growth that happens every day and it is this very growth that aggregates over time to be labeled as extraordinary and celebrated as a success. Big goals are fanciful, small actions are real. They can coexist.

My ambition of reaching the top clouds my judgment to sense the incremental growth that happens every day and it is this very growth that aggregates over time to be labeled as extraordinary and celebrated as a success.

All in all, I tried to sort my mind palace to achieve fluency in my thoughts to align my everyday actions with big goals. It is easy to get swamped by ambition in the pursuit of ambition. While dreaming high is a laudable trait, it is imperative to ensure that dreams of glory do not stifle the chance of ordinary life.

That being said I do not aim to lower my goals, I only intend to ground myself more in reality and become wiser in the pursuit of ambition. Go hard and play it smart.

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Ribhu Nirek

Data Science, Blogger, University of Maryland '21, IITK'19


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