If there's something I'm known for amongst friends and acquaintances, it's that I tend to do things to extremes. I can't just do speed dating, I have to work my way to the top of the pickup food chain. Instead of moving in to a smaller house, or even a big RV, I buy the tiniest RV I can. I can't take a week long vacation to Thailand, I have to get rid of everything and go full nomad for years. Cutting out fast food isn't enough, I cut out everything that's remotely bad for me.
What I write about less are the counter extremes. I was an introvert who was terrified of girls. I lived in my own house with a whole room dedicated to warehousing my stuff. For years I didn't leave the US. Before I began eating healthy, I went to McDonalds so much, and brought my friends so often, that they actually stopped charging me for food AND giving me winning Monopoly pieces to get free food elsewhere.
I do this with just about anything. The other day while writing a post, I wrote, "I don't do everything in a weird way. For example, I..."
And I couldn't finish the sentence with any example concrete enough to make the sentence meaningful.
So why do I go to these extremes? What's the point?
I can't nail down the reason I started. It happened without me really knowing, and is probably due to an impossible confluence of childhood circumstances. But I do know why I stick with it and look for opportunities to be extreme.
I have a real obsession for efficiency. Besides wanting to do, learn, experience, and see everything, I want to do it as well as possible. If I'm going to eat something, I want it to be as healthy as possible, be prepared as quickly as possible, and use as few pots and pans as possible. One of my exes was constantly suspicious of everything I did.
"Wait... are you just doing this because you think it's more efficient?"
Usually I was.
The thing is, the tricks that facilitate efficiency are found in the extremes. Living in an RV has taught me how to live with nothing. It's also taught me that having nothing really does make me happier. Without going to this extreme, I wouldn't have any idea.
Becoming good at pickup helped me dispense with the games and blunderings that I thought were essential. At the same time, I can attract higher quality women.
Pioneering the Maxdiet gave me an intimate understanding of man's relationship with food. It also made me enjoy food more.
Being a nomad means that I can travel anywhere in the world and get the most out of each city. I can do it on almost no money and with no prior knowledge of the country.
Going to the extremes also enables you to figure out where on the scale you want to lie. You can guess without going extreme, but you'll probably guess wrong. When I first started eating healthy, I figured that I'd always want to eat a hamburger. It turned out I was wrong. But I did back off the extreme a little bit. For the first year or so I wouldn't eat a grain of sugar. Now once a month I'll eat the amazing wonders my friend Jonah cooks, or maybe a bit of fish. I eat dark chocolate bars that are only 90% cocoa and have a few grams of sugar in them.
In pick up, on the other hand, I backed off considerably. I don't go out and pick up. I don't do seminars. I use what I learned when it's called for, and of course have been changed as a person.
Besides finding out where on the continuum you want to lie, going to extremes gives you the confidence to stay there happily. I could move into a real apartment and have stuff, and it wouldn't really bother me. I know I can go back. To most people the idea of having nothing would be scary. I've been there, though, so I know that I can happily do it.
In Morocco I ate quite a bit of meat and sugar in a week. There just wasn't anything else. But because I have gone months or maybe years without any of that, I can trust myself to indulge when there's no other practical choice, and readjust instantly when circumstances change.
In other words, hitting the extremes gives you mastery of the whole scale. I can make intelligent conversation as well as decisions on any topic where I've been to the extremes. Contrast that with the person who tells you that foreign countries are dangerous, but hasn't actually been to them; or the person who tells you pick up is manipulative, but hasn't ever seen or learned it; or the person who says they could never live without a TV, but has always had one; or the person who says they absolutely need meat to function, but hasn't ever gone without.
They might be right, but any confidence behind the assertion is misplaced.
Part of being able to visit extremes is having the willingness to be change who you are on a regular basis. If you need a constant in your identity, have it be that you're someone who tries new things with an open mind. If you make an aspect of your lifestyle part of your core identity, you'll never be willing to explore the extremes. Maybe more important, you won't be able to back off the extremes to change back to the best place for you on the scale.
I'm proud to be a vegan, because I have confidence that I'm doing what's best for me. But if tomorrow we find out that fish sticks are the healthiest things in the world, I'll be downing them by the dozen. Maybe some day I'll have a family and won't travel much anymore.
Hanging on to these positions is a major disservice to yourself. Habits should be formed by experience along the continuum, not by adherence to labels, defaults, or pressure from others.
Why go to extremes? Because that's how you get the most out of life. That's the short answer.
P.S. The exception is when going to the extreme is obviously dangerous. You don't need to become a crackhead to know that you don't want to smoke crack. The risks of going extreme in most cases, though, aren't a big deal.
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