| 1065 words

I feel like there's this interesting pattern of advice that involves not caring too much about stuff. I kind of noticed it when reading through a thread of dating advice, but after thinking about it more this pattern appears in all kinds of places, no matter what you're striving for. You can't try too hard to get what you want or else you'll be a tryhard; instead, you have to focus on yourself first.

I think it's fairly easy to see how this applies to dating. If you're desperate for a relationship people will be able to tell, and it'll ultimately make a relationship less likely. It's because, counterintuitively, the people who most want a relationship are less likely to actually get one. The factors that lead to a relationship are complex and hard to figure out, but ideally you should be optimizing for those factors instead.

I don't really intend this to be specifically about relationships either; after all, it's not a topic I can theorize about very much considering I know so little. Maybe another better example of this kind of pattern would be wealth, or getting rich. There's a lot of people out there who want to get rich, and there's a lot of advice for how to do it. Once again, counterintuitively, focusing too hard on the end goal of getting rich is not necessarily the best way to do so.

I think that, similar to a relationship, the most successful people aren't the ones who are incredibly desperate for riches but instead the ones who have the traits associated with being successful and making money. Maybe some combination of being hard working, having good business sense, and even maybe being a little bit schmoozy. idk.

There's even a phrase people say in retire early communities, to remind people getting rich isn't the only end goal. After all, the point of being rich is to be able to enjoy the life you want. They say: "build the life you want, then save for it". To remind people that making money only comes after living the way you desire, and if you get those backwards you may be rich but you may also be unhappy which would ruin the whole point.

I think a similar kind of thing can play out in any creative pursuit. If you're too desperate, too singlemindedly focused on one end result that you're hoping to get, that that path will most likely lead to frustration. Instead, focusing on the fundamentals and building yourself up to the level you desire is the surest way to get what you want.

The interesting part is why being more desperate for this type of stuff wouldn't be beneficial. You'd think that the people most desperate for these goals, whether it's relationships or wealth or art or another of the many examples would realize this dilemma. They might realize what the most logical and safest way to reach their goal is, and then implement a plan to do that instead of reeking of desperation.

I guess that's the thing about desperation though. It's make you act irrationally, almost by definition. If it wasn't so bad as to do that, then it wouldn't be desperation. Desperation is blinding: it makes you literally unable to see that there's a better way to do what you're doing.

It's not just that though. A lot of times it might not feel like desperation from the inside, and it might not be; however, it could still be some kind of missing focus, or getting goals mixed up, or even just not thinking to hard before doing. These are all complex topics, and even after realizing you're not acting optimally it's hard to figure out what acting optimally is.

In the worst case this can lead to frustration and despair. Like the creator believing they're fundamentally unskilled and will never be good enough, or the single person deciding they're just not deserving of love. And to the people in those situations, these probably seem like logical conclusions based on the evidence they have and the things they've tried. That's what makes it so insidious, apart from just being wrong.

It makes one wonder. How many situations are there in our own lives where we get frustrated or despondant for what seem like perfectly valid reasons. How many of those situations are like the ones above, where by focusing on the wrong things the problem seems impossible; insurmountable. And even in those situations, how helpful is that realization, really?

In all the above cases I don't know what you'd really tell someone. "Sorry about dating going badly, but the key isn't to date but it's to just work on yourself!". "I know your art seems bad, but you just have to keep working at the basics"! "You can't get rich by doing the same thing but more, you need to step back and find big problems to work on!".

And when they ask what exactly I mean by working on themselves, or grinding the basics, or switching their career focus that's when I admit I don't really know what I'm talking about. All the points sound vaguely right to me, but it's exactly their vagueness that makes them sound right. To actually do them properly requires some understanding of the complexity and taste that's not easy to get. Maybe the only way to get it is to fail at the easy shortcut route for long enough that the hard thing just clicks.

Is the frustration useful at all for eventually making you switch to a more productive strategy to get what you want? Is it perhaps necessary, in that without it there's no reason to commit to doing something hard. I hope it isn't, I'd like to think that a well written blog post hitting at the right time as all the intervention one needs, but I could very easily be wrong about that.

If I am, well, I hope I run into a well written blog post that hits me at the right time.