I was talking to a friend Richard a couple weeks ago. He’s a college student and told me he’d recently faced a conflict that led to a major change, a change that resulted in unprecedented feelings of alignment between his internal landscape and the work he’s doing in the world.
I asked Richard what major change he’d made.
Richard had changed his major. Which makes sense.
I met Richard through Offscripting, the startup my sister Christie and I started a year ago to support weirdos in blazing their own trails toward happiness and success.
How we met is relevant because Offscripting is designed to attract weirdos, which I’ll come back to in a minute.
Richard changed his major from physical therapy to entrepreneurship.
Richard told me he can’t explain why he now feels so much better, since he cares tremendously about health and fitness and liked a lot of his classmates.
I can explain it. Don’t know if my explanation is at all accurate, but that’s never stopped me before.
Our education system is designed to produce cogs for our industrial society’s various factories. Cog sounds demeaning, I know, but I don’t mean it that way. Put simply, a cog is a component of a machine responsible for performing, as efficiently and cheaply as possible, a specific task that helps keep the machine running smoothly.
Our schooling trains us to think and act like cogs, which is to say, we learn to find THE right answer, provide it when asked to, and don’t make trouble.
This system produces physical therapist cogs, accountant cogs, writer cogs, assembly-line-worker cogs. I, personally, have spent much of my past decade working as a lawyer cog.
How can you tell if you’re a cog?
If you stopped doing that job, would you be easily replaced?
If the answer to that is yes, you’re a cog.
I don’t think that being a cog is inherently negative. If you’re someone who finds satisfaction in that role and wakes up excited to do that work and returns home content, carry on.
But let’s get back to why Richard is weird. I believe that most people are comfortable performing as a cog. Some people, though, are not satisfied with that role.
Some people have trouble taking orders. Some people don’t like having bosses. Some people are born to create rather than to build something someone else created.
I call those people weird.
Richard is weird. I am weird. Every offscripter is weird.
Being this brand of weird is neither good nor bad in and of itself. Like most things in life, the thing itself matters infinitely less than what you do with it.
For a weirdo like Richard, going the well-trod conventional path to success will never suffice.
We’re just not wired for it.