Living in a World Not Built For You

I say this not to complain or even to suggest that it should be otherwise, but it occurs to me regularly that I live in a world that was not only not designed for me, but may have been designed for the opposite of me.

I’m in Queenstown, New Zealand right now with a couple friends. We went downtown to eat dinner and then searched around for something else to do. Queenstown has a cute compact downtown area full of pedestrian streets lit by shop signs. We passed by store after store and couldn’t find one we wanted to go into.

Finally we settled on Starbucks where we drank drinks we didn’t really want. There we searched online for something to do, came up empty, and went home.

This happens to me all the time. It doesn’t bother me, because I expect it and because I understand that I’m the one who is off. I’ve made strange decisions that have left me incompatible with the world by default.

And this is probably how things to be. I think that a world I designed would be a nightmare to far more people than the current world is.

Sometimes I try to imagine what it would be like to be a more normal person. I imagine that bars serve really nice tea and smoothies, and I imagine that stores have really high end items at great prices. I imagine that the music everyone listens to is all classical and gangster rap. I imagine that most people I meet would share values and hobbies with me. Almost inconceivable, honestly.

The upside of living in a world that’s not designed for you is that you get to be creative. You have to be, really.

Maybe the best example in my life is a cruise. There’s may not be a human invention less geared towards me. It’s all about entertainment and vacation, two concepts I don’t particularly value.

I love cruises, though, because I focus on those parts of it that I can use, and disregard the rest. When everyone else is sunninng themselves on the deck, I’m in the nightclub with my laptop working. When they’re in the nightclub dancing at night, I’m sitting with my friends having a two-hour conversation. And in between I’m pounding down free steaks and hitting the gym trying to capture them and transform them into muscle.

It’s liberating, in a way. When the map of life is so different from the terrain you see ahead of you, you just toss away the map and do whatever you want. You see things not for the whole, but for the component parts that you can rearrange and turn into whatever you want.

And when you see someone else working on their laptop in the nightclub in the middle of the day, you know you’ve found someone else for whom the world isn’t designed.

It’s okay if the world is designed for you, and it’s okay if it’s not. Sometimes people don’t feel like it’s okay that they’re living in a world that isn’t designed for them. Those are the people who try to fit in, fail, and feel terrible. I can understand that, too. I think I felt that way a bit in middle school.

If you’re one of these people, you may as well embrace it. The world isn’t likely to shape itself to your unique personality, so you may as well mold yourself, or your own little world, to the world at large. Take the parts that work for you, mix up those that don’t, and be happy that you have the opportunity to use your creativity to build your own life.


Photo is a ghost town near Queenstown. The view is similar from where I’m writing… while other people are out and about jet-boating and such.

By the way– I’ll be spending a lot of time in Budapest this September and October. Let me know if you’re there or will be visiting, as I’ll probably do a meetup or two.

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