My role models are crushing me

My last few days have been Elon-Musk-heavy. I’ve been reading through the epic Wait But Why series on Musk, his mission and his companies. I also listened to Ashlee Vance’s (author of Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future) appearance on James Altucher’s podcast.

Blown away would be an understatement for how part of me feels. The other part of me would say that it feels overwhelmed, anxious and depressed. I mean, look at what the dude has done. His life is both inspiring and discouraging in equal measure.

I wouldn’t say Elon Musk is one of my role models. But he’s someone who has lived (and is living) a purposeful and principled life, so I respect him. I have other role models. Individuals who I look up to and seek guidance from. These people can inspire me. But sometimes, they discourage me too. Just following their exploits and being up-to-date with their life and work deflates my balloon. Not on purpose, of course. This may sound like something from a bad romantic comedy, but the problem is me, not them.

I look at people like Taylor Pearson, Ryan Holiday, Tucker Max, Venkatesh Rao, James Altucher, Austin Kleon, Cal Newport and Tim Ferriss and think, why bother? They’re better than me. They’ve done what I’m trying, what I’m struggling to do. I’m just a poor imitation. What’s the point?

I ask myself that question in a whiny, lamenting, entitled, childlike voice. Another voice answers. I imagine the answering voice is what Michel de Montaigne would sound like if he was alive and narrating an audiobook version of his essays. It’s a bouncy, energetic, joyful voice. A voice infused with a love of life and living. A voice which hints that it’s possessor is like one of those impossible to knock down bop bags. Someone who springs back from every assault of fortune.

That voice provides an answer to my nihilistic question. 

I look at these people who I call role models and ask myself, “why bother?” The voice that loves life responds, “why the fuck not?”