The Biggest Enemy You’ll Ever Face…

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“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

-Richard Feynman, Nobel Laureate in Physics

You are about to enter a battle of wits with the greatest enemy you have ever faced.

Sure, you’ve slayed dragons in World of Warcraft, you’ve crushed tests in school after pulling an all-nighter, and you survived an encounter with your miserable boss that made you want to set the building on fire like Milton from Office Space.

This enemy is different. It knows you better than you know yourself. It’s been studying every move you make since the day you were born. It’s been whispering subversive messages in your ear every minute of every day. It’s like playing chess against a computer that has tracked every move you’ve ever made.

Ruh roh.

Luke Skywalker knows what I’m talking about. He couldn’t defeat Vader and the Emperor until he confronted this very same enemy in the swamps of Dagobah.

It’s hard to even SEE this enemy. Fortunately, there’s usually one place you can look…

Is Your Ego Keeping You From Starting?

Mirrorball

Have you ever been afraid of trying something for fear of looking stupid? I DEFINITELY have.

Have you ever been in a gym, afraid to try an exercise because the person next to you is lifting 3-4x the amount you are going to attempt?

If you’re a guy, would you be comfortable lifting next to Staci as she pulls 425 lbs (193 kilos)?

If you’re overweight, do you worry everybody is looking at you the whole time as you walk on the treadmill?

This is your Ego telling you “I’m too fragile for this. Let’s get out of here and go back to our safe zone.” I know I constantly struggle with feeling inferior around people in the gym, and I’ve been doing this stuff for a decade. It’s not just the gym either. I once sat in a car for 20 minutes before taking my first Swing Dance lesson, trying to work up the courage to go inside, because my ego wouldn’t let me get started.

You’re not alone. Our egos are fragile creatures, and their feelings get hurt very easily! And damnit we don’t want to feel like crap when we’re looking to better ourselves. If we’re not careful, this can result in us throwing in the towel and giving up on something worthwhile.

Your ego says: “We’ll look foolish and this isn’t for us and look at these other people who are stronger and more fit than we are. They’ll probably make fun of us, so don’t even give them the satisfaction of trying.”

In short: “Screw you guys, I’m going home.”

The reality: Everybody started at level 1. The most popular rap song in history is a rags to riches story. Even our Canadian friend Drake started from THE BOTTOM and now he is HERE.

When you play World of Warcraft you need to pay your dues and go through the crappy levels killing spiders before you can slay dragons. You’re new. Be proud to be new. Be proud to be you.

Henry Rollins loves the church of the Iron, because it never lies to you. Your ego is often times full of shit and can make you feel better or worse than you really are, but the iron never lies – it’s the great equalizer.

200 pounds is always 200 pounds.

So go pick up that bar if you can. If it’s the best you can do, then it’s the best you can do. Let everybody else around you battle themselves for a personal best while you do the same. Headphones in, hardhat on (figuratively, and do work!).

It won’t be easy. Your entitled ego will expect fast results or tell you to quit when things get tough. Your ego will expect you to be rewarded and advance quickly. You might, you might not.

But you have to step in the arena. You can acknowledge your ego, and then pick up that rusty sword and fight.

Your Ego Keeps You From Stopping Something that isn’t working

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Your ego is one stubborn son of a biscuit.

I know. I have been dragged into many arguments because I let my ego get the best of me: in relationships, with family members, with coworkers, and with myself. I let my ego get in the way, stubbornly sticking to a losing battle because I was too afraid to admit something wasn’t working (or wasn’t worth it).

Whether it’s continuing even further down a career path that no longer satisfies you (because it was your college major), staying on a team you’re no longer happy with, or being in a relationship everybody else loves, your ego keeps you around longer than you should be there.

This manifests itself in a few ways. We get hooked on the accolades and achievements we’ve collected. Our egos tell us that our parents and friends are proud of what we’ve done and changing that up would be weird… and disappoint them.

We throw good money after bad, chasing dead ends because we’re too embarrassed to admit we were wrong in the first place. When a diet doesn’t work we blame it on our genetics rather than realizing maybe it wasn’t the right strategy for us. Because our egos fool us, we confuse “the strategy didn’t work” for “I’m a failure if this doesn’t work”, and we stick with it instead of searching for a better solution.

Don’t even get me started on relationships! It might be us, or we might know somebody in a relationship which stopped being healthy 6+ months ago… and yet, they stay in it! Our egos say “If we break it off, our mother will say ‘I told you so.’” Or our egos tell us, “Hey, it’s better than being alone. Only losers are alone!” Which we know isn’t true. No wonder half of all marriages end in divorce – many people don’t want to ruffle any feathers and end up waiting years too long to have the tough conversation.

It works for Nerd Stuff too! We read a whole book or play a game in its entirety that we don’t actually like because our ego tells us we need to finish everything because we already bought it. Our egos tell us “you bought it, you have to use it or you’re wasting money,” not understanding the concept of a ‘sunk cost’ fallacy: once you’ve bought it, it doesn’t matter!

In fact, you’re worse off if you spend a single minute more on something you don’t enjoy just because you bought it. That’s a minute you could have spent on something else that you’ll never get back!

If something really isn’t for you, STOP DOING IT. If you have a shitty job and there’s another path you’ve always wanted to pursue, QUIT. If you are in a bad relationship, make the hard choice and move on.

Your ego is making this wayyyy more complicated than you need it to be. Your friends will support you, your family will still love you, nobody freaking cares about your job status or financial worth other than people who are trapped by their own egos.

Your ego won’t let you ask for help

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There’s a cliche that often felt true in my life: guys don’t like to ask for help. Or directions.

We’re afraid to ask for help in the gym on how to do an exercise because we want to look knowledgeable and strong. We’re afraid to ask for help on a project at work because we want to prove we can do it ourselves.

We’re afraid to ask for directions because we don’t want to admit that we made a wrong turn 20 minutes ago when we should have gone left at Albuquerque instead of right.

In probably a far more important example, we see mental challenges like anxiety or depression as a battle we must face alone, because admitting that we are having problems is to admit that we’re broken or weird. And our egos don’t allow that. If this sounds like you, PLEASE read this.

Fun fact: I’ve seen different therapists in the past seven or so years (as I’ve moved around the country), not including the hundreds of hours I’ve talked to my friend Lindsay (you’ve read her articles) who has served as my relationship/life therapist and good friend throughout. I remember first talking to Lindsay about this 8 years ago and she said something that forever changed my thoughts on it:

“Steve, people that are in shape go to the gym to work on things and get better. Talking through things with somebody is the same: you can work on mental things and improve.”

I really struggled with my ego to accept the fact that I needed help on some things that I just couldn’t wrap my brain around, and speaking with a qualified therapist and arming myself with exercises and mental models to work through those struggles was so freaking helpful.

Your ego tells you that asking for help is stupid and to keep doing what you’re doing. To hide your struggles because you need to get over them yourself.

Reality shows us that asking for help is no big deal. Sometimes it’s the fastest way to get results and get back on the right track!

Your fragile ego needs a wake up call.

Last month, I had an opportunity to go see best selling author Ryan Holiday speak at Google HQ about his newest book, Ego is the Enemy.

I made it through the book in a single day, and felt compelled to immediately write this post after. It’s also the only time I wrote a review for a book on Amazon, because I felt compelled to spread the word.

It perfectly illustrated how:e

  • Our egos can keep us from starting something.
  • Our egos can keep us from STOPPING something that isn’t working.
  • Our egos can keep us from asking for help when we desperately need it.

If we fail to see our egos for what they are, they can consume us and force us against our will to make unhealthy or time-wasting decisions.

Whether people are talking shit about me (hey, it’s the internet), or saying nice things (hey, it’s the internet), my ego seems like it’s got a mind of its own. The worst part is, sometimes I start to believe my ego! It’s quite loud, it’s needy, and it never goes away.

So I have to acknowledge my ego in certain situations, and then act how I would if it wasn’t there. It makes me feel like Westley in The Princess Bride, tasked with defeating Vizzini in a mental battle. By understanding how my ego works, I can beat him at his own game:

I want to hear from you!

Leave a comment with how you’re battling your ego and I’ll pick 3 people at random and send them a signed copy of Ryan’s book, Ego is the Enemy.

-Steve

PS: I have no affiliation with Ryan other than the fact that I liked his book and it inspired me to live differently!

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Photo: Alex Eylar: Lego Mirror, Eduardo il Magnifico: Blue Lego Mirror

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99 thoughts on “The Biggest Enemy You’ll Ever Face…

  1. My ego is really getting in the way on a business course I’m taking. I’m stuck and don’t want to reach out to the community for fear of asking stupid questions and looking like a total noob. I never realized how I’ve built my life to be surrounded in activities I’m great at. Taking chances and possibly failing is hard. Great article, Steve. Thank you.

  2. I fight with my “inner drill instructor” daily, even though I’ve never been in the service. He constantly tells me how worthless I am, how much I suck (in general), and how much people dislike me. Every. Single. Day. Whenever I try something new, he tells me how I’ll fail, and how horrible it will look.

    It took over a decade of therapy and anti-depressants to start to drown him out, a decade of ruined relationships and suicidal thoughts. He still screams and yells, and sometimes I find myself listening to him again. But I just get back up and walk away, determined to do what I need.

    It’s a constant battle, and one that is more worth my time than any other I’ve had to do.

  3. OMG I totally understand now!!! I’ve used to not want to go to the gym because of my size and even if I do I get in for five minutes and run out after those muscular people are staring at me on the treadmill at a snail’s pace while they are deadlifting a trillion kilos.. Hah, ego, I gotcha!!!!!! 🙂

  4. This post is an eye – opener! After I read this, I reflected on some past (and current) issues / problems and I have to say: my ego is one giant a – hole!
    I truely never expected that one’s ego can cause so many ‘problems’, discussions or twisted situations (those situations were you have asked yourself at least once “How the hell did we ever get here?!”)
    Maybe my new theme song should be “Let it go!” (while twirling around in a Disney – princess – costume) …
    Thanks for this post!

  5. I always look up to “old people doing stuff” (sometimes it’s crushing my own ego because they are way better than younger me, but that’s not the point 😉 ), e. g. Ernestine Sheperd (google her!). Try to overcome your anxiety and do it! 🙂

  6. I’ll just copy this from my blogpost on nerd fitness rebellion forum ( Gogor: the path of 10 000 steps ) :

    After some 5 months of absence, I got really anxious about coming back to the tatami.

    My brain was doing super crazy thought cycles, like :”I’m out of shape.
    What if I make a mistake and everyone laughs at me and points. What if I
    hurt someone or myself. What if my fellow students started to resent
    me. What if my sensei hates me now for being absent so long, and says to
    me that I have offended the him, and the dojo, ans the spirit od aikido
    founder O’Sensei, and kicks my ass and throws me out. What if ailiens
    take over the earth. Awww, I’m screwed!”

    So I just got my “20 seconds of courage” and I get my kimono and go there.

    And all of my fellow aikidoka friends are thrilled to see me and greet me
    with joy. Nice. And when I meet my sensei, he smiles, and gives me a
    hug. A HUG. And says that they all missed me and they are so glad that
    I’m back. And that makes me feel like a million bucks. And later makes
    me feel ache all over and smile a lot. I’m back i the dojo. And I’m happy.

  7. This line stood out to me: “No wonder half of all marriages end in divorce – many people don’t want
    to ruffle any feathers and end up waiting years too long to have the
    tough conversation.”
    It’s as if you were right there in my previous marriage – my ego wouldn’t allow me to admit I had made an error in judgment and I never attempted to have that difficult discussion with my ex. In fact, it took me 18 years to finally admit I had made a mistake and have that discussion.

  8. I started going to the gym at the beginning of this year (roughly 8 months ago) and, of course, I started increasing the weights as soon as I was able to handle them. I’ve read about all the problems derived from bad form and bad movement, so I _know_ I need to focus on form _before_ weight. For the last couple of weeks I’ve started to do more movement and flexibility training and, finally, I decreased the weights a significant amount! I swallowed my ego and starting doing the reps slower but with increasingly better form.

    I’m happy to say that I just reaped the benefits: today I did the squat workout “ass to the ground”! Full deep squat!! It felt awesome!

  9. Wow. This was so incredibly timely. I mean, it’s like fate stepped in and said, “Read this. Now.” In one hour, I’m going to the gym for the first time in… I don’t know… 20 years or so. I have an appointment with a fitness trainer at the gym I just joined. I’ve tried to come up with a hundred excuses for not going, mostly having to do with being the overweight woman using the weight machines in front of all the buff Barbies and Kens. I’m terrified. My ego is a willful, relentless bully. This article is EXACTLY what I needed to find the courage to tell my ego to simmer down and take a seat. In the past year, I’ve battled depression, been through a divorce, and embraced single parenthood. Surely I can show up at the gym and do something good for me. Surely I can beat the battle of wits against my own stubborn ego!

  10. I struggle battling my ego with deadlifts at the gym. I go to a commercial gym and my ego prevents me from deadlifting when there are others pulling way more weight than me. I’m too worried about someone thinking my form is bad (which its not) or that I’m weak and it’s made me only able to deadlift if the gym is empty. This article opened my eyes to that my ego is the problem.

  11. Ego is like cowardly copy of myself. Every time I see something like an activity or a project, I’d think about how it would be like to join it. My ego, on the other hand, lists every reason it can possibly come up with to remind me I can’t, with a sad smile on her face. I tent to listen to her a lot, however, I realized how much opportunity passed me by because of it, because of me and my fear of being laughed at. Sometimes (mostly) a few hours before my workout, it starts talking again. “You’re too tired, maybe you should move it to tomorrow.” “You have stuff to do, you need more time and it will just hinder you.” These times, at least, are the times I can ignore her. I remind myself that if I do what it tells me to do, I’ll be breaking a huge habit I worked over a year to built along with my reliability on my control over myself. I’m trying to do this more often these days, so much that it can go extreme, but this is when I have the most fun and feel happy. Ego isn’t really bad if you ask me. It shows that I’m aware of the society and know my responsibilities. It’s just terrified of being left out and made fun of, since it knows how bad it can be from experience. One day it’ll see that others don’t really care about what I do that much.Well, this comments went on too long. Thanks for sticking to it even with my not-so-good English. Have a nice day.

  12. You’ve forgotten a crucial piece of nerd lore, Steve. When you said who “the worst enemy” is, I thought you were going to say “yourself.” Go back and watch that scene in “Star Wars” again where Luke confronts a shadowy Vader figure in a cave (and note Yoda’s advice). Or watch that dialogue Gollum has with himself in “Lord of the Rings.”

    While your ego can make your life tougher if you allow it to, keep in mind that the ego is part of you and it exists for a reason. Its job is to protect your safety and give you a very very strong sense of self preservation. Sometimes the ego screws up, but it is only an old 8-bit program that understands very limited commands, “fight” “item” and “run.” Blaming the software does no good. It is very ancient. It cannot help being dumb. You must understand its powers as well as its limits, and use it to your advantage. (Remember how “looking good naked” is one of your motives to be fit?)

    The ego can be tamed. Acknowledge its wishes, give it a gentle word, maybe bait it with some shiny objects… and treat its urges as you would the suggestions of a toddler. (Ego wants ice cream? Proper responses: “Not right now,” “We don’t eat that anymore, remember?” “We’ll get some next Friday,” or “Ok, but just a little bit.” Improper response: “No way, how you dare you suggest it, you’re just trying to make me fat, I hate you, aaaaaaa.” Poor toddler ego does not know what to do with that, except freak out more.)

  13. My ego is keeping me out of the local CrossFit box. I’m so nervous about working out around others my ego has me convinced that I should wait until I can put together a home gym. I’ve wanted to try lifting heavy things since I first read Staci’s story on here years ago, and I’ve been holding back forever!

    My ego also has be convinced that everybody needs me SO much that I can’t take time for myself without making everyone else suffer (mom of 3 here…) which in reality sounds pretty crazy.

    Silly ego.

  14. The most soothing thing to me is remembering that nobody gives a shit. 99% of the time, literally nobody else is paying the slightest bit of attention to what you’re doing. At the gym? Nope. At work? I’m a lawyer – on an average motion hearing, the courtroom may be full but the only people paying any attention are my client, the prosecutor, and (ideally) the judge.

    As far as friendships go, the best thing I have ever thought of, and I spread it as gospel, is that if somebody doesn’t like you and you don’t like them, that’s not a problem; that is a mutual agreement.

  15. Being a good swimmer is part of my Level 50 plan, but I have to fight daily with my ego to start off as a terrible swimmer as an adult. It seems socially acceptable to be a learner when you are a child, but as an adult it only seems normal to be a great swimmer or to not bother. Add to that the social terror of wearing a swimsuit…
    I decided ego be damned and took my first swimming lessons last year, but I literally had to argue with myself to go every day. This year is a little easier because I have gained some strength and feel more proud of my body for its physical capabilities, and am less focused on its appearance.

  16. I didn’t realize just how much I was battling ego until I read this! I try very hard to work on ZFG but clearly I need to apply that to my own ego. Being female shouldn’t be an issue (Staci clearly proved that) Age shouldn’t be an issue (56 isn’t THAT old, right?) It’s never too late to start, every day is a another opportunity to improve (even if it’s baby steps!) & never 2 in a row! Now to convince my ego I mean business

  17. First ever comment, but this article truly hit me. It’s like I needed to read it today. My ego tells me I’m fat and unattractive. And as an example it uses the painful breakup I’ve had and the ex who still calls and asks me out, without investing again. And I go or pick up, because my ego says: you are not pretty. Just go along.

  18. I read this not long after ending a toxic relation that kept going for way too long and it hits pretty close to heart. My ego managed to fool me into thinking that this is what happens when you stay together for a long time (almost 5 years) and that i should stay in it. The thought of being alone and forced to go back to dating was terrifying! With support of good friends and some time I’m back looking for someone to share my life with and I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time!

    Thanks to this new energy I’m also back to working out!
    PS: Thank you Nerd fitness crew for the endless inspiration!

  19. I’m keeping a journal. If I don’t do something that I want to because of ego, or if I clearly see that something isn’t working despite investing time and energy into it, the act of writing it down helps me decide whether it’s just ego acting as a roadblock or not. Great advice!

  20. I became aware of my battle with ego in my early twenties doing mixed martial arts. My judo Sensei reminding us at the beginning of every class to leave our egos at the door. I had to accept that some days I was going to get thrown, I was going to tap out.
    My battle then continued on the yoga mat. I am naturally quite inflexible, and very goal oriented. So developing the patience to stick with the practice despite lack of immediate results was a struggle.
    Nowadays my largest difficulties are around meditation and career. I’m not levitating yet, so I must be doing something wrong, right? I’m not president of the company yet, what gives?
    But the one thing I do know is if I’m dedicated to putting in the effort daily I will make huge changes throughout my lifetime. I may not end up where I had originally intended, but I’ll be many miles from where I started. And that is a victory in itself.

  21. At age 56, after being a registered nurse, a realtor, a paralegal, a pianist, and an IT professional, I am now a dog groomer. AT AGE 56.

    My ego OWNS me. I feel like I am in a little kid’s position. I’ve been told I am as old as “dirt,” and why am I even doing this? You might can tell, I’ve searched around for the “right thing” and I KNOW dog grooming is it…but like most of you, I am embarrassed to even try. I’m done with training, I know how to do it, but putting myself out there is the HARDEST thing I have ever done. I might fail.

    I’ve gotten to the jump-off place. The “do or die” place. The “this will make a man out of you” place. I am judging myself constantly. I am looking in the mirror (which ain’t bad at 56–after Nerd Fitness) and asking—“WTF are you doing in a little kid’s world?”

    Welp—Ego says, “Absolutely nothing, and this is where you deserve to be.”

    So thanks for this post.

  22. This is something I’ve been fighting for a long time. At 23, and facing the reality of the real world, my ego tells me that I should be in my dream job and be in a relationship by now. And I’m not. And my ego puts me down, and makes me think bad things about myself, and makes me want to give up. But everyday I fight it. I fight my battles to make a better life for myself.

  23. My kid shines a spotlight on my ego all the time, which I realised once I let go of trying to control her sleep and just relaxed a bit and accepted the fact that I’d have to get up at night sometimes and be tired the next day.
    I fought it so hard because I’m a stubborn mofo, and all it did was being me pain. I still do the work to try and help her sleep, but if it doesn’t happen for whatever reason I’m getting better at being ok with that, which has made such a big difference to my mental health.

    Our egos can say things should be as we want them, all the time, and every decision we make has to be right and even if it’s not we can’t admit it because failure is worse than growth. Egos can be such assholes when they’re like that srsly.

  24. My boss told me a few days ago that I will most likely be laid off next month, following our company acquisition. Although I’ve told a few close friends and business acquaintances, it’s been a struggle to decide what to do next and, namely, ask for help. I can’t help but feel so ashamed to not be able to get a new job right away, or ashamed to not know exactly what to do next.

    I’ve been lucky to have good people offer help with interview practice, connections, or resume review. I would normally thank them and never actually accept these offers, because it would be like ADMITTING that I can’t get a job on my own, and I am a freaking adult!

    But ego battling is on. I’ll take them up on all the offers.

  25. I’m surprised that there wasn’t a single reference to Dark Link in that whole article!

  26. I try to have always a “beginner mind”. I play baduk ( also known as go, the game in which google deepmind outplayed an human profesional recently. ), and to improve you need to have an open mind.

    Playing new movements, asking better players for advice, showing them your best movement just to realise you won by your opponent mistakes. They weren’t good moves.

    But when it comes to run in the streets, is different. People are always mocking about people, so you try to ” hide”.

    What I do is look at my mirror. And understand, that the only person that cares deeply of my future is me. Ego tries to take care of you now. But can’t think of your future.

    Sound easy, but it’s not. It take b#### … courage to get tour shit done.

    Luis B.

  27. My ego is something that holds me back from trying new career paths. I don’t like my current major (law), but I fear that I would be complete amateur at everything else. I am working on it, however, for example, I plan to do a course on desktop publishing. And I like children, so I could try baby-sitting, too. Yet, sometimes it feels just too scary.

  28. I need this book – I am in a job with serious mental health consequences if i don’t sort myself out and speak up or quit !!!

  29. Struggling, not fighting yet.
    I’m dealing with depression, and I can’t even look out for help. I tried 7cups, got content with basic achievements and never went out seeking out for true help.
    I also went to a psychiatrist, the only thing he did was give me some meds and “let’s see if by the end of next month your mood gets better, it seems to me you have nothing to be too worried about”

  30. Great post! Getting over the fear of walking into that first swing class struck a chord with me — it took me forever to get to my first Krav Maga class for that same reason. When I finally forced myself in the door I was met by fun, supportive people and had a great time.

  31. I’m struggling with aiming high and not believing I can get there. After reading this I’ve made a conscious effort to start researching how to get to where I want to go, have the strength to continue, and ask for help along the way. The way I(‘m trying to) see it, if others can do it, then I can as well.

  32. Been working on it since 46 and this year I will be 48. Wow. It is hard to feel like you look foolish. What worked last year is no longer working thanks to perimenopause. I know it means I need a new game plan and keep trying. People at work who have watched look at me no differently and even these fitter people struggle with how they fail in their view or how they are not what they think they should be…sounds like ego to me all around. Good article.

  33. This right on.
    so many people worry about going to the gym–because they think everyone is looking at them.
    I have to admit the first time I went to a gym, I was like fish out of water.
    But you soon learn that nobody cares and that–they were all beginners once too.

  34. I recently started college away from home and my ego’s keeping me from making friends bcs I think I’ll be awkward putting myself out there. But either way, I’m going out of my way to meet with clubs and go to social events on campus. Awkward or not I’ll make some friends

  35. You don’t have to fight it. You’ll never win.
    You have to saddle it and ride it. And there’s a method. Google kabbalah

  36. One way to look at it is from the perspective of the other person.

    If you heard that a friend or colleague was being laid off and you had experience that you could usefully share with them to help them develop their skills and/or find a new job (and the right job!) quickly, would you look on them as a failure if they accepted your help?

    If you wouldn’t perceive somebody accepting your help as failure or weakness, then it can reasonably be deduced that they are highly unlikely to see you as a failure.

  37. I’m 36, been reading NF and trying to level up my life for a few years (I’ve lost about 10kg of fat so far). I’m not yet at my goal but getting there. Ego definitely gets in the way but the trick is to recognise it, learn from it and ask yourself why you feel the way you do about it and how can you get a grip so that next time you can mentally change your attitude to something positive such as; asking for help, complementing yourself (can be very hard to do), not giving up, starting again for the hundredth time etc. Ego is definitely not discussed enough these days so it’s great to see a healthy discussion here, on that note I’m going for a swim.

  38. Trying meditation or “mindfulness” can help with self confidence/ego issues. It allows you to take a step back and look at yourself from a different perspective or 3rd person type of view so to speak. Sometimes looking at something from a different angle or perspective makes you realize that your original point of view was actually skewed and caused you stress or worry. Stress can lead to weight issues not to mention mental exhaustion.

  39. I’m still a barista because I love it. Few things give me as much joy as making beautiful coffee and then making someone else happy by giving it to them. The first time I used an espresso machine, my blood hummed and my heart was all, “Ah this is what i want!” And I was like, “No, heart. Shit, we have to make a real living and be a respectable person because reasons!” But it was too late. Sometimes, when I’m checking over my finances, the nastier parts of my own mind (How can an organism have such ruthlessly self-destructive parts of its own brain…?) remind me that I wasted years of my life getting a college degree and now I insist on keeping a career that will pretty much ensure I will never free myself from my student loans. Unfortunately, I feel too acutely how finite my time is, so I can’t bring myself to get a “real” job. That said, I worry. Did I give up somewhere along the way and just not realize it? I’m not an ambitious person. Is that ok? I don’t feel like winning things and competing with my peers, but I know I’m supposed to so I wonder what’s wrong with me. -shrug- I just want to take nervous coffee patrons by the hand and gently lead them toward an understanding that excellent coffee needn’t be complicated nor intimidating. I want to learn all of the things about coffee. What’s new? Why? Can I learn roasting? Where do politics and sourcing intersect? Can I learn machine repair? These are things that make me feel ambitious, not to climb any ladders, but to explore and play and stay interested and meet people who want to nerd out on coffee. I’m just a barista. I can’t help it.

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