Reflecting on my upbringing, I think I lived a fairly sheltered lifestyle. I had the same meal for dinner nearly every night. I attended a religious school where nearly 100% of the students had the same ethnic background as me. My mom was a teacher at this school, so I often spent my early mornings, late evenings, weekends, and summers there. Bounded by the religious teachings, I grew up not being allowed to eat meat or cut my hair. I did not travel anywhere outside my hometown, except for my parent’s hometown. My world was small.
A lot has changed since then.
I can trace all those changes back to deciding to spend a semester studying abroad in Singapore. I backpacked around SouthEast Asia for 5 months while being based out of a country where I did not know a single person. It made my world physically bigger. I met people from places that I did not even know existed. I had fruits and meats that I did not know you could eat. I became exposed to problems that I did not know needed to be solved. Experiencing this meant I couldn’t go back. The way I saw the world changed and it felt impossible to go back to living the way I had before. I’ve shaved my head, moved to a new country, dropped out of college and each one of these experiences made my world bigger. It allowed me to understand myself in the context of expectations I have placed on myself.
What does it mean to make your world bigger?
Making your world bigger means to change the lens in which you evaluate yourself. It means to gather more context and datapoints on what the possibilities of life could be. It means to better understand both the importance and insignificance of your own existence.
Why make your world bigger?
When you make your world bigger, you allow yourself to reflect on your thoughts and actions by considering the expectations you have placed on yourself. A lot of these personal expectations are subconscious. It what we consider our “gut feeling”. When something happens and you “feel bad”, it’s a sign of a mismatch in expectation. Even though it may not be clear what expectation it exactly is.
Ways to make your world bigger:
Be radical. Question what you’ve known. To question what you know, you must first understand what do know. Understand that most of your habits and tastes are heavily influenced by your childhood. Understand how certain habits can make you a slave to your most comfortable surroundings.
Travel. I don’t mean go to a popular traveling destination and become a tourist. Making your world bigger, even just physically, doesn’t happen from sipping margaritas on a beachside resort. To make your world bigger, travel by getting remote. Talk to the people that live in those places from a perspective of pure curiosity. Imagine what it’s like to live there. If you can, try living that life.
Actively make choices that give you access to the things you do not know. Go for that job that you feel under-qualified for. Go to that event where you do not know a single person. Go on that date for the sake of meeting a person you would have otherwise not met. Read that book that has a pretty cover (it’s completely okay to judge a book by its cover).
Find stability. This could mean a ride-or-die friend group, a morning routine that you religiously follow, or a physical place that provides you with comfort. As you attempt to make your world bigger, it’s important to not lose your sense of self. Recognize that making your world bigger comes with a lot of side effects. It could mean that everything you once believed no longer makes sense. It could mean that you discovered the people you surround yourself with aren’t that kind after all. I could mean discovered an entirely new trajectory of your life. The only thing you can do to be prepared to the unknown is finding this stability in something. It’s a difficult process to push your boundaries. Finding stability will ground you.
Thanks for reading! I’d like to thank Devreet for the inspiration for this post and Krish for pushing me to keep writing.