I read a really interesting article about astrology and the north and south nodes. They are a story arc of your soul, of your hunger and what satisfies that hunger. For the year I was born and consequently my entire peer group growing up it was the Aquarius north node and Leo south node. The lesson this represents is that we crave validation but somehow never reach it, only to realize that we are craving something unattainable under some form of oppression and the only way to truly satisfy that validation is to rebel and reform and change our relationship to society.
What that looks like: instead of chasing goals and #girlboss, giving yourself room to be strange and have a teenage rebellion phase and being simply proud of the fact that you’re surviving life. “Staying alive is an art form. Survival is an art form.”
So while my friends were off to MIT and Stanford or interning as a doctor in Africa or something I was smoking weed in my dorm with dropouts, writing poetry and having anxiety attacks and taking fashion photoshoots with thrifted clothes and taking vows of silence and being so weird my friends were equally uncomfortable and inspired. I didn’t do any coursework (and eventually had to drop out of school)
I was about 22 when I told my dad I realized that at my core I am totally average and that it made sense. What happened next was totally surprising. He said I was incredibly insightful and wise for realizing this so early in my life.
Now I am 32. A decade later, and so many things happened since then. Most notably my brother passed away from depression. This memory of that conversation holds more meaning now when I reflect on the achievements in my life. If I had a resume of the things that I actually cared about, of the moments that really amounted so something important, this moment would be on it.
We need some definition of being human and that definition is disguised as this mundane thing— average. But what “average” is, is really universal acceptance and compassion that being human is a real and tangible thing.
Average means you exist. It means you are alive and staying alive, surviving, is an art form and a victory.
I’m more proud of myself than ever, because when I look back, I quit university, I travelled in Korea for a year, went back to school for engineering and started working at startups, trying to be successful. And yet again I’m rebelling against the idea of being rich and successful in business and to simply travel and write and read books and be with amazing, inspiring people.
While my peers were launching healthcare startups and getting research grants and fellowships all on the LinkedIn feed, I was always, always behind. But knowing now what it’s all about, where the endless hunger for validation comes from, that the oppression doesn’t come from never being granted validation, but from the need for validation itself, when I was writing poems about being grateful to be alive, all along I was so very much ahead.
In high school I always thought of myself as a leader among my peers, but the real kind, the one that inspires and challenges and is a role model. When my friends were crying over midterm grades I wanted to enjoy learning for the sake of passion and curiosity. It’s cool to know that it never changed. Somehow I knew it was simply a part of me. I never want to be the kind of leader that is measured or even noticed.
One of the reasons we chase validation and needing to be the best at something is because I think it substitutes as a purpose, when we feel completely cynical that our lives have no real purpose. I realized that I’ve never met anyone more rebellious than me. (They do exist but I’ve only heard of them from TED talks or books.) So I am exceptionally good at something, and I measure that with standards I’ve created—that doesn’t make the standard any less challenging or real or meaningful.