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This is You - The Podcast

May 2019

Auroosa Kazmi-Ishaq and The Myth of the Linear Path

May 29, 2019

Episode 5: It's time for another solo episode!  For those who listened to Diary of 2 Middle Children (episodes 4, part 1 and part 2), you may remember that Sania and I talked about the myth of the linear path briefly.   

What is the linear path?

"The Linear Path is a worldview in which mastering perfectionism, progress and ever-exceeding improvement lead to success, security and happiness." - Daniëlle van de Kemenade⠀

Many of us have been brought up with this idea.  For me, I believed that if I followed all the steps "correctly", (went to school, got good grades, got a job, got married, etc.) then I would find happiness and success.  I believed that life proceeds in an orderly, linear fashion and I just need to find the magic formula and follow it to find success...and perhaps more importantly, avoid failure.  But in reality, this idea is a myth.  Careers are progressively more and more non-linear and happiness is not a final destination that we reach once we've surpassed enough milestones.  Have you ever felt that every time you reached a milestone, instead of celebrating it, you lamented that you hadn't reached the next milestone yet?  That used to be me.⠀
A few years ago, I realized that that 1) the linear path is a myth, success and happiness is not a straight line but a squiggly one that goes in every which direction, 2) there is no such thing as doing things "right", everyone follows a different path and what works for one person, doesn't work for another person, 3) every step we take is just a data point in our journey which will help us to make future decisions and learn from our failures and mistakes, it's not the end of the world and 4) no matter what you do, there is no way to avoid the risk of failure, making a mistake or defeat. What's important is to be in the arena: striving, risking and daring greatly.  Brené Brown talks more about being in the arena in her book Daring Greatly.