I often wish I had someone to give me solid guidance throughout the intricate process of growing up. I’m grateful that my parents provide me with the necessities of life while I still can’t, but I’m not close enough with them to be able to pour out my heart. I don’t have any older brothers/sisters who could give me their intimate “been-there-done-that” lessons. I’ve had mentors but they prefer to share just their technical knowledge and help me with my career alone, so I am still left to my own devices when it comes to my personal growth. I’ve been this way since high school, like a child still learning to internalize what’s right over wrong, the weight of my decisions increasing with time.
Over time, I had built a sketchy system for going through the motions of daily life, which was usually either monotonous or in stasis due to an emotional disaster that I don’t know how to deal with. I graduated twice with good credentials but I felt mediocre and pathetic, and I didn’t understand it. When the most recent emotional disaster shook my core and broke my once solid trust in friendship, I would have attempted to take my own life, if not for my therapist who reminded me (in a straightforward, rational way) that it’s not worth it since I still have so much to look forward to and so much to offer the world (not to mention, so many caring people to leave behind).
I gave myself a long time to reflect on my life, and then it occurred to me: I really have to rise up above my current self. I needed some sort of compass for personal development. So to have the kind of guidance I think I need, I decided to outsource wisdom from the internet, fiction, and my observations/eavesdropping.
I subscribe to the business and life lessons imparted by three entrepreneurs/authors who have proven themselves successful for changing their life, changing other people’s lives, and changing the world: Mark Manson, James Altucher, and Jay Samit. Everyday I pick up ideas from their writing and podcasts that stick to me enough that I use them to improve my philosophy. (The best part is, I can always reach them via email! And I did.)
I draw inspiration from the fictional characters I grew up with. Kazuma Azuma for his ingenuity, Beatrice Ushiromiya, Light Yagami, and Miles Edgeworth for their confidence, the gamers Shiro, Sora, Keima Katsuragi, and Umaru for beating every game, Shinichi Chiaki for overcoming his deep-rooted phobia, and all the Kuuderes for their calm and collected yet competitive disposition.
Nodame and Chiaki, from the series Nodame Cantabile
Now that I think about it, I should also be grateful to have crossed paths with a few notable people throughout the course of my life. Heck, some of them aren’t even close to me or probably aren’t aware of my existence, but a great part of me was forged from what I learned from them.
- My grandmother’s countless stories about rising up from poverty constantly remind me of the importance of willpower, hard work, education, and generosity.
- Nory (my scholar)’s continuing excellence over her struggles in life taught me the importance of allocating one’s resources efficiently.
- Kwez (with whom I shared a gaming circle) and his love and mastery of games ignited my passion for Game Theory.
- Nina (my cosplay partner) made a strong impression the night I met her, by staying optimistic about life and focusing on her dreams in spite of all the things that recently happened to her that could crush anyone’s soul.
- Ian B. (the only other INTJ I personally know)’s circumstances in life made me realize the significance of the adage “It is important to stand up for yourself, even if it means standing alone”.
- Dr. Custer (the main guy of Pinoy Scientist)’s undying enthusiasm about pushing forward any idea he can think of and pushing people to make progress inspires me to be passionate about my endeavors.
- Daniel (the guy who taught me how to play bridge/resistance and configured the LaTeX editor on my laptop)’s definition of excelsior manifests in the way he carries himself, and it strongly reaffirms mine.
- Through his dealings with me, Dr. Guido (my current mentor) showed me the importance of open-mindedness, adaptability, and maintaining a rational perspective during the toughest of times.
- And thanks to Dara (one of my closest friends), I learned the necessity of finding oneself and emotional independence, the hard way.
These people are influential not for any advice they have given me, but for what I choose to make out of and internalize from my observations and experiences with them. Now I am more confident, resilient, and in a higher existence than my yesterday’s self.
I guess, at the end of the day, only I am responsible for my own growth and development as a person. That I can impart wisdom on myself that I may not be able to get anywhere else. That even if I don’t always recognize it, I myself am my own mentor.