We go through our lives trying to be accepted and trying to fit in amongst our friends, in school, at work, after work and pretty much every where we go. No one likes to stand out and be the center of attention, and even those who do (like Lady Gaga), are still in a way, seeking acceptance (from their fans, for example).
A lot of us go through a major part of adolescence being described as aimless, lazy and lacking ambition. What is actually happening at that point is that (besides acting lazy to gain peer acceptance) we are still trying to discover what interests us. Unless unusual factors are involved, we tend to be subconsciously attracted towards interests that we think will bring us the maximum acceptance.
Through the pursuit of interests, each of us finds our life’s calling, or purpose. Some people find their purpose in life early, some convert to lifetime wanderers and yet others find it after years of struggling from one vocation, location or social group to another.
Also consider that some people have purpose thrust upon them, either by circumstance or by dint of not being able to resist peer and/or parental pressure. In extreme cases, they find that their happiness doesn’t correlate with their success (there’s a fine example towards the end of this talk).
Over time, we break down our lofty purposes into smaller, achievable and measurable goals. Life is all about fitting in unlimited possibilities in limited time, and not all of us will be able to achieve all our goals.
Setbacks will become failures, we will forget to reassess our progress against our plans, more responsibilities will crop up, priorities will change, things will go wrong and we will accept (or consider accepting) defeat. Or the opposite may happen: motivation will become obsession, we will make sacrifices & compromises, one success will lead to another, we will surpass our own expectations and at some point it will all get to our head.
And that is why we need anchors. Anchors are the people or the things in our lives which bring everything back into perspective, give us strength, show us sense, restore balance and in general remind us that we are only human. Anchors keep us grounded and safe while we try to soar towards our goals. Just like a tether holds back a hot air balloon from soaring too high than it should. Every morning, we set out to achieve our goals, and whatever be the outcome, every evening we return back to our anchors. They are the unchanging constants in our lives.
If, for some reason, we fail to establish meaningful goal(s) or find suitable anchor(s), we end up filling the void with distorted forms of acceptance such as Fakebook. We start living vicariously through TV. We start believing what we’re told, because we don’t have any beliefs of our own. We lose perspective of reality. We form cults around beliefs. We become ready to do anything, anything at all, just to be accepted. And the worst part is: deep down inside, we all know it.