True Freedom Means Many Weak Ties and Few Strong Ones
One of the things that’s bizarre for me to read among all many of the comments, emails, and forum posts from new guys just discovering Girls Chase or who’ve mostly just been reading occasionally but not putting into practice is the prevalence of the “this girl or this group or this environment is TREMENDOUSLY important and I can’t mess it up” mentality.
It’s been ages since I’ve had a mentality like that... but I can relate. I felt that way often in high school, and at times after in university. Once I dialed down my involvement with social circles and began approaching women, that feeling went away and never came back.
I was free.
At the same time, I led a more rewarding social life than just about anyone I knew – my hands full with pretty girls, and all the cool / admirable / successful male friends I could want.
Why would anybody leave themselves in such restrictive conditions that they felt like achieving one specific outcome with one tiny group of people was life or death?
We discussed this re: girls a guy might be obsessing over in “Can’t Stop Thinking About Her? Here’s Why
You Need to Meet More Girls”... but it goes deeper than
this, too; both with women, and with freedom in general.
We only have as much freedom as we allow ourselves, you see.
I didn’t understand why traveling abroad became so important to me once I’d had a taste of it after college.
I’d been north to Canada and south to Mexico and the Caribbean with family while a teenager, but they’d always had to drag me kicking and screaming and all I really wanted to do was stay home and be depressed.
I passed up study abroad opportunities in university as something I had zero interest in, and didn’t agree to venture overseas until a friend of mine invited in 2006... and I’d adopted my “say ‘yes’ to all not totally unreasonable opportunities” mantra.
I was nervous, and fearful, and would have preferred to have stayed at home... but once I was traveling, I loved it.
I made it a point to try and make at least two international forays each year, with what funds and vacation time I had from work, throwing all my vacation time that I didn’t save for holidays with family into going overseas, always to a new country.
Part of it was that I wanted to be “well traveled”; another part was that I wanted to push my boundaries and get comfortable in all these uncomfortable situations.
But there was another item there too, and that was the taste of real freedom... beyond that which I’d known before.
Who Holds Power Over You?
When your world is small, the few people within it hold immense power over you.
The smallest world I was ever in was probably high school; trapped with a thousand students in one building, only 200 or so of them people I regularly interacted with, plus teachers. If you messed things up and got ostracized, you were done, and there was nothing you could do about it. Once out, no one wanted to have anything to do with you.
I felt bad for the kids who were the extreme losers... some of them were really smart, nice folks.
I still wouldn’t talk to them when they tried to talk to me, though, besides a few lines of polite conversation before finding a way to get pulled away. I just couldn’t take the risk of being associated with their toxic reputations.
At the same time, those students with the coolest, most popular images seemed like the ideals... if you could just spend time around them, your position safely within the tribe would be assured.
Yet, I too had enough clout that the kids from the “in” crowd would try to be seen chatting with me and hanging out with me in school, and they’d remark in awe about how I didn’t care what anyone thought... revealing in the process how deeply they must care about what others think to focus on how free I seemed to be from this.
We were all of us trapped there together, even those at the top, dependent on one another for social position. Over the four years, I watched some kids fall from grace, and others rise to social power. It was sad to watch one of the formerly popular girls, with her bubbly, likeable personality, get gradually left out by the in-crowd later on in high school and end up taking on a mentor / authority role with some of the lower tier girls as her way of remaining socially relevant. Not even the popular kids were free, and when I’d hang with them I could spot as much weariness at times from the top guys and top girls alike, from trying to hold onto their crowns and keep up their images, as I did from the depressed kids at the bottom of the pile.
I went to a university with 40,000 students on campus because I wanted to get away from this. I wanted to be free from the restriction that small groups and familiarity bring.
Of course, anonymity brings its own complications... especially when you’re awful at chatting up strangers, as I was then.
Small World, Small Mind
When you are trapped in a small world with one small group of people comprising the whole of your socializing, you become highly dependent on the group for your core self-image, and your life contorts to fit within the parameters of the group.
That means that if you spend day-in and day-out with any collection of individuals, your aspirations will begin to conform to what they view as “possible” or “achievable.”
When I was surrounded by impoverished auto mechanics from redneck areas and the ghetto 50 hours a week for a year after high school, my world gradually shrank to fit with the world as they saw it, with larger aspirations beyond the not-much-more-than-minimum-wage world seeming ridiculous and grandiose and being a store manager looked like the best I could hope to achieve any time in the next 10 years of my life or so.
I was extremely fortunate to have come from a middle class background and to have parents who essentially forced me back into education after my year of working, because I can still very easily imagine a life where I am Chase Amante, Store Manager, and all the adventures I have had over the past decade never happened.
As I’ve modified my social circle to almost entirely other business
owners in the online space, and primarily self-made multimillionaires,
my perspectives on business have changed dramatically. The idea of
slaving away in a low-wage job seems crazier and crazier to me... but
only because I see so many successful people around me, and so many
different and clear paths toward success.
And these viewpoints are mutually exclusive; a self-made millionaire surrounded by other self-made millionaires trying to tell a minimum-wage guy surrounded by other minimum-wage guys that getting rich is actually pretty easy looks to that minimum-wage guy like he’s lost in his own world, or just was lucky or privileged but somehow mistakenly attributes this luck or privilege to his own non-existent “skill.”
Same deal with seducers. If you’re a boring, unsexy nice guy
surrounded by more of the same, the level of cognitive dissonance you’ll
experience hearing an experienced seducer who’s surrounded by more of
the same himself as he talks about how much women love sex is so extreme you’ll
tell him he’s full of crap. You just know
he can’t be talking the truth... because your experience speaks
otherwise, and everyone around you agrees.
The more closely you identify with a core group of people, the more restricted you yourself are to the beliefs the group holds, and the limitations it places on the achievements of its members.
What if you could do and achieve true freedom?
The freedom that comes from shedding old limitations and knowing that you really can do damn near anything you want?
I distanced myself from social circles because I could not find freedom in them... only restriction. Perhaps most people need this for themselves though; freedom comes with a cost, after all, and that cost is heightened uncertainty and the necessity of relying on oneself.
It means needing to be a leader in one’s own life, for one’s own cause.
And nobody starts out wanting to be a leader. Some people might want the perks of leadership – recognition, approbation, attention from women, frequently wealth – but no one wakes up one day and says, “Gosh, I sure wish I had to make judgment calls constantly, decide every single thing for myself, and be responsible for a large number of people who depend on me for income, guidance, love, inspiration, or some combination thereof.”
This is my theory on why so many people keep themselves trapped in small worlds that run slipshod over their dreams, turning them from dreamers into good, loyal cogs in the great machine with their heads down and noses to the grindstone by their mid-twenties or early thirties.
The price of true freedom is having to assume the mantle of genuine leadership in one’s own life, and often for the lives of others, and for most people this burden is too great of one to take on... they would rather stay in a small, constrained, limited, and limiting world, but not have to worry about making too many decisions or having too much responsibility resting on their shoulders.
They trade freedom in choices and freedom in path for freedom from decision making and freedom from being a leader.
The Choice We All Make
That ultimately is the choice each of us must make for himself:
Will I be a man who seeks the freedom to forge his own path, live in a world with abundant choice, and have everything I want, BUT pay the price of having to make my own decisions about everything with no support network or safety net, and assume the responsibilities that naturally accrue to those who are leaders in their lives and spheres? or
Will I be a man who seeks the freedom to kick back, relax, and let life and the people around me shuffle me where they may, with no excess responsibility other than doing what life tells me I must do, at the price of never being able to do the things I TRULY dream of doing, having the things I truly want to have, and always having to follow a path that is less than my ideal?
Every man reading this doubtless said, “The first one! I choose the first one.”
Then, after reading this, 95% of those men will go on to lead lives in accord with the second.
That’s because they live lives that structure things so that the second bullet is the one that holds the path of least resistance.
When you live in a small world, it is very EASY to let the group decide for you, take what the group gives you and no more, and aspire at most to a top position within the group. It is very HARD to blaze your own trail and take complete responsibility for your own life, free from the pressures of that group.
Therefore, no matter how much you might LIKE to follow that first bullet... no matter how noble a path it seems to be, how much promise it seems to hold, and how much it speaks to that deep need every man has to embark on his own “hero’s journey”... the fact is that most men will never do this anyway, because it’s just too easy to stay in their circles, with their small worlds, and maintain the status quo.
Embracing True Freedom
I was not able to seriously focus on writing and making music until
I was out of a low-wage 50-hour-a-week auto shop job and living around
more creative college students in university.
I was not able to start getting seriously good with girls until I quit hanging at friends’ parties much and focused squarely on going out alone.
I was not able to devote myself to learning business building and entrepreneurship until I was out of the corporate world and surrounded by entrepreneurs instead of fellow employees.
Of course, I wasn’t able to find most of these people in the first place until I started casting about looking for new people to connect with living different lifestyles than mine, but lifestyles more in-tune with where I wanted my life to be.
Embracing true freedom, then, consists of two parts:
Seeking out new friends and acquaintances to surround yourself with who are outside your present circles and leading dramatically different lives than those inside your circles, and
Cutting off restrictive circles and removing yourself from their influence and grasp
If I was still in the corporate world, I’d be very worried about putting my face on this site, and probably would’ve focused on keeping it as low profile as possible. One, because who wants people in the corporate world that butters his bread to know he’s a dating coach? and two, because who wants people in the corporate world that butters his bread to know he’s building a side business instead of working to become the perfect corporate puzzle piece?
Likewise is it true that if I was still stuck in some kind of high school-like environment, I’d either never have learned game... or I’d have made absolutely sure all my real learning was occurring in bars, malls, and streets far enough away from school that I wasn’t going to run into anyone I knew from that circle, who could make me self-conscious.
In fact, that’s part of why I prefer to change cities every so often – when you get to a new town and you’re completely anonymous, you are free to approach as much as you want and fear no consequences... but after a year or two in town, you start to know enough people that you run into acquaintances here and there, and you begin to get more self-conscious. Thus, approaching goes down; you meet fewer women; and the freedom and excitement of the place just saps away.
Because as you’ve gotten to know more people there, your world has become smaller... and your options there have shrunk too, if ever so slightly.
Do I Have to Become a Hermit?
I’m not saying “don’t have friends.”
I am saying that if you want true freedom, you must have a diverse and scattered group of friends, and not restrict yourself to one core circle of friends who all know each other and with whom you spend the most of your time. It’s fine to have circles like this occasionally, especially if you’re learning a lot with them, but sooner or later all circles become more restrictive than they are educational, and at that point you need to start adding in people outside those circles who don’t mix with those circles.
Freedom comes from having different choices, different options, and no set association at an identity level with a certain group.
The moment you catch yourself identifying yourself by your friend group, or the company you work for, or whatnot, you gain the advantages of associating with them, of course, but you also inherit their constraints. Whatever that group sees as difficult or impossible, you will too; whatever is too big for that world will be too big for you also.
So, seek to live in a big world. The bigger your world – the more varied the people you know; the larger the number of different places you’ve traveled; the broader the collection of skills you have developed at least base-level proficiency at – the more truly free you become.
If ever you start feeling stuck, or tied down, or constrained, or out of ideas, don’t get mad at the world – get mad at yourself, for pursuing a limited circle.
Then, go start bringing new, different people into your world – and grow the size of that world into one you can do all the things you want to do with.
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