Nobody Is Coming to Save You
This morning, I woke up to messages from someone I care about. She’s been going through a hard time, navigating tumultuous relationships in her life as best as she could, and she had reached a point where she was just tired — just done.
There’s an African saying which goes something like this:
If you push a goat to the wall, even they would bite back.
It’s similar to the western phrase being between a rock and a hard place.
She was at that point. She wanted me to help. All that came to my mind at that time is the most selfish sounding phrase:
Nobody is coming to save you.
But if you don’t know my own story, then you won’t understand how that phrase makes perfect sense to me — especially because no one is coming for me either.
Next month, Ayodeji Awosika will be releasing his 3rd book. I read an advanced copy in two days — it was that gripping. This phrase comes from a chapter in the book.
I don’t remember how I came across Ayo’s writing, the same way I don’t remember how I came across James Altucher or many people who have blessed me with a well of knowledge or light ingots. All that remains after the encounter is the impact.
Ayo’s new book is one of the most practical books I have ever read. That’s all I can say. What drew me more to the content was the context of the writer himself.
He made bad choices, he owned his choices. He paid the price for the life he wanted, he stands by them.
Of course, the internet is the place where we curate, choose what we say and appear how we want to be seen. But do it long enough and your real self emerges. Ask my buddy Cody Wanner and he’ll tell you the same thing he did on Matt D’Avella’s podcast — about how creating a video every day for 365 days forces you to address things you may otherwise never address.
I want to be loved. Like everyone on earth, I want someone who I care about to equally care about me. What we don’t want to accept — and something Ayo mentions in the book — is that the people who care the most about us may be the biggest sources of low-key Resistance.
“Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the
strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific
enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important
to us and to the growth of our soul. That’s why we feel so much
Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no Resistance.”
— Steven Pressfield, The War of Art.
It’s because they love us that they don’t want us to ‘suffer’. It’s because they love us that they don’t want us to take risks. They embody the fear that Resistance uses to take form in our lives — and heads.
It’s almost as though that love refuses the practical nature of existence or the reality that the hard things take effort (and even pain).
The people who love us the most would rather we live okay lives and be happy, than risk it all to be sad.
And it makes sense. Why give up security? Why try more than what’s necessary? Why take a new path? Why sacrifice anything when you can have it all?
Or can you?
I’ve read enough self-improvement books to identify the patterns and general ideas. It’s almost always the same thing, just said differently. When someone like Ayo, who is about my age, living a life that I am working towards, talking about mistakes I must be aware of — I can’t not listen.
I can’t not see how listening to my parents and keeping their voice in my head made me afraid of taking blogging seriously when I started 8 years ago.
I can’t not see how ignoring the relationships that matter to me for the sake of a career won’t end up costing more.
I can’t not see how anyone could have saved me from losing jobs, being afraid of taking risks, moving to a new country not knowing what it was, the growing pains of the first year of marriage, the hard truths about losing friendships and life decisions that affect others as well.
My therapist has this tongue in cheek saying: I love humans individually, but as a race, we’re capable of such terrible things.
Thing is, we only see the grand scale of atrocities: genocides, wars, slavery. We don’t see what I love to call low-key resistance:
The parents who tell you to focus on school because a job would make you focus on money.
The people who tell you to be practical and stop dreaming because you’re not in a country that allows dreams.
Those who tell you you’re in America and you should abide by the system and do what everyone does.
The carrots and sticks at work that reinforce how complacent you’ve become.
Or the quiet voices from all these people — voices that come up so many times you start believing they’re right.
Nobody is coming to save you — from yourself — if you don’t realize what it takes to get to where you know you can be.
I keep going back to Ayo’s book because he provides actual steps to deal with many issues he points out so beautifully. Things like how the media is engineered to affect us the way it does, steps to take whether you’re a single mother with kids, or if you’re in college with a job.
The writing resonates with me because it’s not fluffy or devoid of circumstances. It brings to mind things I already know to be true — uncomfortably so. For example: even though my parents didn’t actually do anything to me or force my hand, I am aware of the emotional and psychological implications of someone who loves you, telling you that you’re making a bad decision.
Remember, I want to be loved. We all do.
I am also aware that in the end, no matter what we choose to do, how we handle the conversations with our loved ones, whether we rage on and become the black sheep of the family, or lie our way to our dreams — by saying one thing and doing another — it all boils down to a few things.
- If you’re blessed to live a long enough life, you will have regrets. Most people regret what they didn’t do, not what they did.
- No one can really force anyone to do anything. If you blame the world for how your life turns out, you may fool everyone, but you won’t fool yourself.
- The people who care about you want you to be happy. And if you live the life that makes you really happy, they’ll eventually turn around. They might even become your staunch supporters.
I write all this because this person I care bout won’t exactly listen to me if I say this. Many people in my life tried to get me to listen and I didn't. Life is not a series of blog posts or knowledge from books. People deal with things we can’t just advice away. It’s happened to me too many times for me to pretend that I am better at this.
I’m not. Every single day I have to pull myself up and remember how far I have come from the scared 15-year-old who just wanted to study Literature and ended up in the Science class.
You will be okay, I promise. But only if you accept that there’s very little you can do about others, and a lot you can do about yourself. Life can hit you in places you had no idea existed. Death comes unannounced. Depression is real. The system — educational and financial — isn't built to care for those who need it the most. The people who love you will protect you at all costs, even at the cost of the life you know you can have.
It’s not against you — like Ayo says: “It just is”.
So what will you do? Will you keep fighting a losing battle? Will you scream about how the world sucks and let the internet know every day?
Or will you accept that you have a life, dreams, talents, skills, a healthy mind to be able to read this, internet access to be able to make different decisions, and people who love you so much they’d rather not watch you suffer?
When you’re 89 years old and you’re telling the story of how you lived, will you talk of everyone who stopped you? Will you complain about every president, every parent, every friend who ‘disappointed’ you?
Or will you say:
Here’s how I proved them all wrong — with love.