Why don't we challenge our assumptions more?

"Pursuing higher education is worth it, no matter the cost."

How could this NOT be worth it?

How could this NOT be worth it?

It's almost taboo to even challenge this fact.

Think about it, when is the last time any politician in the two main parties questioned the college-industrial complex?

Even I tend to be a little more quieter at family parties when it comes to my schooling, because I know it's just going to be too much trouble to argue the point that maybe -- just maybe -- the value you get from college can be attained for much cheaper and much faster elsewhere.

Entrepreneur and New York Times best-seller, Ramit Sethi, calls these "invisible scripts" -- ideas so ingrained in our heads that they create a narrative around us and dictate our lives. Whether society manufactures these scripts, or we impose them on our selves, they have a strong influence on our daily decisions.

Our culture today is dominated by invisible scripts.

Things that people accept as facts, without even thinking about it.

In fact, there are some things we tell our selves that we hold so true, that if we challenged them, we'd see something completely new.

Take for example:

"I'm just a lazy guy. I can't help it".

We keep telling ourselves this, and soon enough, we'll start to believe it. The thing is, you're probably not a lazy guy.

You're justifying to yourself that it's okay to be lazy because it's some innate trait in you that you can't change. 

But what if we told our selves this:

"I'm an ambitious guy. I have goals. Why am I just sitting around? What am I avoiding?"

You can immediately tell the difference of which mindset is going to beneficial to you.

No matter which script is "true" or not, one helps you, while the other one debilitates you. And if it takes time to internalize this new script, then so be it.

Here's some more examples of invisible scripts:

  • "Working for free is bad."
  • "All rich people are greedy corporatists who don't pay their fair share."
  • "Get your graduate degree because more education is always worth it."
  • "Spending more money on someone shows that I really care."
  • "People on welfare are just milking the system."
  • Etc.

Choosing Your Narrative

Society tries to weave this narrative about who you're supposed to be, but ultimately, you have the power to choose who you want to be.

As an Asian American, my established narratives or "invisible scripts" revolve around:

  • Being a doctor/engineer
  • Emphasizing family and roles
  • Higher education is the path to a successful life

Now, I can choose which ones to accept and which ones to deny. I buy into the American vision of  individualism and freedom, while also cherishing the respect and familial aspect of Asian culture.

In your case, you can either buy into the narrative, or you can opt out. There's no reason you have to follow what people tell you to do.

Just start to think about who's trying to create your story: is it you, or is it society?

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