The Unending Pursuit of Better
We’re submerged in a culture that constantly broadcasts a distilled, polished version of reality. Open any social media platform, and you're immediately hit with images of sun-kissed influencers lounging in exotic locations, tech moguls with their latest world-changing inventions, and personal development gurus selling overnight success stories. All these weave a potent story: you're not living this prototypical dream. You suck. You lack. You're typical.
It's not just social media that perpetuate this. Blockbuster movies present heroes with unparalleled abilities who overcome massive adversities in mere hours. Our history books, too, often reduce the life stories of monumental figures to a series of successes, conveniently overlooking the countless trials, tribulations, and failed ventures that they navigated before etching their names in the annals of time.
This omnipresent theme creates a dangerous mirage. It tells us that there's a singular, shining path leading to 'the good life', and deviation from this means you've missed the mark. This mainstream narrative rarely celebrates the messy middle, the detours, the restarts. But if we look deeper, the journey to self-actualization is filled with these.
The relentless 'you can do it' slogans, though meant to inspire, sometimes set unrealistic expectations. While there's no denying the value of ambition and drive, an overemphasis on achieving a predetermined, prototypical success can create a tunnel vision that blinds us to the myriad possibilities life offers.
The Myth of the 'Golden First Attempt'
Modern culture, through its digital filters and veneers, often portrays a one-shot-to-success narrative.
Yet, behind every "overnight success" lie countless trials, errors, failures, and learnings.
The first draft of a story, the alpha version of a software, the pencil sketches of an architectural marvel—all are mere initial steps. Like writers who mold and reshape their narratives, our lives, too, must undergo drafts.
Embracing this iterative process leads to an authentic, evolved, and self-aware existence.
Prototyping: The Heartbeat of Innovation
No building stands without a blueprint, no symphony without scales, and no scientific discovery without hypotheses.
These preliminary steps, these prototypes, are the building blocks of greatness.
When inventors, artists, or scholars commit to their crafts, they understand that the first draft isn't the end; it's just the beginning.
Your Life, Your Drafts
The idea of prototyping isn't limited to art or science—it extends to our lives.
The unself philosophy asks us to shed rigid identities and to unlearn predefined life trajectories.
Just as the best creations come after multiple iterations, the richest, most fulfilling lives often evolve through experiences, experiments, and self-reflection.
Consider careers, for instance. Gone are the days when one's job was for life. Modern professionals might transition through multiple roles, industries, and vocations. These aren't inconsistencies; they're prototypes—iterations leading towards a more authentic, aligned life.
The Fear of the Eraser
In a world chasing the ghost of prototypical, create yourself by prototyping what's typical.
Many of us dread the idea of starting over, of admitting that a path we've taken isn't the right fit. But in the realm of prototyping, the eraser is as crucial as the pencil. It's not about erasing mistakes but about refining our designs. If a prototype doesn’t serve its purpose, it’s reworked until it does. Our lives deserve that same patience and persistence.
Tinkering with Possibilities
Life's canvas is vast and varied. Just as an engineer tinkers with components to optimize a machine, or as an artist experiments with colors to find the perfect shade, we too can play with life's myriad options.
Whether it's taking a sabbatical to travel, joining a pottery class, adopting a minimalist lifestyle, or moving to a new city—the possibilities are endless.
By continuously prototyping, we’re open to discovery, growth, and evolution.
Beyond the Prototype
The reality is, every groundbreaking invention had its predecessors — prototypes that were tweaked, reworked, or even discarded. Every bestselling author, at some point, penned words that never saw the light of day. Every athlete, no matter how naturally gifted, faced days of defeat, moments of uncertainty, and periods of learning. Every artist created pieces they weren't proud of. Every entrepreneur faced failed ventures. Their stories aren’t just about reaching a destination but the art of journeying, the act of prototyping their paths.
Instead of striving for that elusive, prototypical life — a life that promises perfection but often delivers disappointment — consider the idea of life as an ongoing prototype. An iterative, evolving design that allows room for growth, change, experimentation, and even failure. Because, in truth, life's magic doesn't lie in the mimicry of someone else's highlight reel, but in the brave endeavor of drafting, redrafting, and evolving one's own narrative.
While prototyping is about iterations, it's also about moving closer to a version that feels right. But unlike a gadget or a manuscript, life doesn't have a 'final version'. The beauty is in the journey, the drafts, the learnings, and the unselfing.
In embracing life as a prototype, we acknowledge that we're works in progress. And in this acknowledgement lies freedom—the freedom to evolve, adapt, and grow. As the world buzzes with generative algorithms and AI models, let's remember our innate human ability to generate, iterate, and reinvent. Let’s prototype our lives, embracing every draft as a step closer to our authentic selves.