Every day is yet another day I am impressed by the amount of talking, reading and writing made about waking up early.
Frankly, it seems to come mostly from average writers trying to make catchy titles: How I changed my life waking up at 5 am.
I’ve woken up at 6 am five days a week for many years. Sometimes six days out of seven. And not because of some principle or propaganda. It just feels like a good time to wake up, taking into account what I like to do during the day. And I wouldn’t say it changed my life, really not at all.
It definitely improved it, but not because of the timing itself. Again, it’s because of the things I like to do. I prefer doing things with the light of the sun rather than the moon’s, and some of my hobbies are not even possible to practice at night. Outdoor running and cycling, for instance, are not recommended at night for security reasons.
If your passions are better cultivated late in the evening, or at night, then hopefully you are not impressed by those writing that make such a buzz about the dawn. I love sunrise, for the records, I love it because running outside when the sun is rising feels awesome. If I were a professional poker player I guess I’d often stay up very late to practice and sleep in the day after.
I am taking here the wake up time as an example. In reality, it’s one among hundreds of subjects distorted by too much sad writing. Fame, money, body, to name a few more, are important things in life. I do care about them, and everybody should, weighting each one by her person preference, objectives and passions.
I encourage ambitious mindsets, and set for myself very high standards. I fail most of the times, but I always keep in mind one thing: a lot of hard work is needed. A lot of hard work is needed consistently. Then I open up any page, blog or magazine online and all I see are pretentious shortcuts, unreasonable achievements and, overall, too little honesty.
On fake models
I guess my point is: beware of the fake models out there. It’s freaking scary out there!
Fake models are pretentious plans, or even lifestyles, created by people trying to sell us stuff. A waterfall of new fake models is created every day, sadly.
Selling stuff is one of the oldest ways to make money, and a respectable job. Over the centuries it has evolved and the Internet transformed it completely, in good ways.
But also in bad ways. Now it’s way too easy for anybody to create fake representations of reality (and of themselves) trying to sell stuff.
The positive view (Stop the negativity!)
Gosh, I re-read the sections above and they sound so pessimistic. They really are not. Don’t get me wrong!
The problem I am discussing is serious, for sure, especially for avid readers like me. But so many years spent engineering my life and my job have taught me that every problem contains an opportunity.
The harder the problem, the greater the opportunity.
Thus, what is it? There are many, actually. They all take off from the assumption that work is needed to overcome this problem, like any other.
First, the community. I know that when I will finally find the “right place” to read and write, I will bond with the other guys and girls over there. Because they fought the same problem, and they won too.
Then, there’s the knowledge. As the saying goes, the journey matters more than the destination. Reading and writing aren’t goals, they are the journey. Journey towards a better myself. I’d rather learn from good reading and writing, but for the time being I am happy to learn from junk reading and writing. They help me understand what I don’t want to be, thus defining who I am. These and many other opportunities are in front of my eyes every day. Like fruits to be taken. Don’t complain!
The core of this issue is why I stopped reading on Medium. I tried, really. I registered and published one article that had been in my mind for a very long time. That article, my first, was curated and selected by the largest publication on Medium. For a begin, I thought it was a promising one.
Then, I started receiving a lot of junk from their newsletter. I mean, not really junk like you’d imagine, just very pushy, spammy, unreasonable articles.
- How to get rich in two minutes.
- How to write twenty thousands articles every day.
- How to become awesome waking up at 4 am.
Get some sleep, really. And what the heck do you have to say in so many articles?
It generates a bit of sadness in me too, because writing and reading are meant to elevate minds, not to do … whatever that is called. It shouldn’t be about people copying each other’s articles trying to celebrate fake models in the attempt to sell us… stuff.
For sure, people always do that. They always did and they always will.
That’s why I consider filtering out junk Medium’s responsibility.
On a different perspective
On the other hand, most people enjoy reading that kind of stuff. Maybe the problem is just mine!
It’s a simple matter of fact that average people are attracted by shortcuts (become rich in 2 minutes), fame for poor quality (1000 articles a day) and heroic efforts (wake up at 4 am).
Real stories don’t sell. The real story is that it took me more than ten years, three college degrees, one PhD, and willingness to keep learning every day, even now, to get where I am. And where am I? Just in the middle of my life, enjoying every single challenge in it!
If I wrote an article it would be titled Stop reading junk, go to school, keep learning and work your butt out every day for…ever. And don’t forget to enjoy it. And you know what would happen: nobody would read it. This story doesn’t sell.
The story doesn’t sell and publishers, including Medium, are… well, just another seller.
Hold on with that thought for a second. Is it possible that no true story is ever brilliant?
That’s obviously an overstatement. Some of these impossibly awesome stories may even be true. I doubt it, but anyway, even if they are, then it’s just a few survivors. It reminds me of the survivor bias. Survivors get to tell their stories, everybody else doesn’t. Thus, even if the survivor’s story is true, you should not take it too seriously because it represents an exception. Everybody likes to read Bill Gates' story, but there’s only one BG.
On the search for the better
If not to work hard to improve ourselves, and have fun with the process, what are we even living for?
That’s why I like new challenges so much. The one I’m telling in this article is a pretty interesting and funny one. I’ve long searched for a publication, actually, for really any “place” on the Internet, that is capable of filtering out the average junk and encouraging writers to write real stories and good stuff. I am yet to find it.
It’s a hard battle because the real enemy is marketing and money. All editors need to sell (and rightfully so), and they get trapped in a terrifying cycle by the readers (the majority of them) who want to read the easy story. The story that keeps their butt anchored to the couch. The story that keeps them every day stuck with the same thought: Yeah I could do that too; I will start next week.