Upgrade Your Problems

Writer Mark Manson wrote the book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck .  I haven’t had the opportunity to read it, but it’s come highly recommended by several people.  I did get to hear him on an episode of the London Real Podcast recently.  He talked about the fact that life will never be void of problems.  Specifically, he mentioned the idea of ‘upgrading our problems’.  Basically, some problems are better to have, than others and you should seek to experience better problems in life.  For example, if your income is really low, you may have the problem of paying bills.  If your income is really high, you may have the problem of figuring out where to donate money and how to file your taxes accordingly.  Both can be stressful but I’ll take the larger income problem any day.

A couple of weeks ago I was really convicted about leaving Tacoma for a New City.  I’ve slowed my roll a little bit.  It’s not totally off the table but as I’ve researched rent’s and jobs in the cities I’ve considered, I haven’t come across anything compelling.  I explored San Jose, California.  Perhaps fatefully, I made a recent connection who literally just moved from San Jose, CA a few months ago (talk about a timely occurrence).  We had a conversation this past week and she strongly advised against moving to the area.  “The rent is ridiculous!”  Apparently, even if you have a high paying job as an engineer, you can still end up needing roommates and living 5-6 people in a small place.  It’s going to be tough to focus on Day Trading and Fight Training when I can barely pay rent and have 12 roommates.  Moving is not totally off the table but if I’m going to leave people and a city and  that I love, then I want to leave for a better set of problems than the ones I have now (promoting my business and being single still, primarily).

If I’m honest, I have to admit the primary driver for the consideration of leaving was born out of a lack of romance in my life.  I know I mention this a lot but bare with me here because I think this will be helpful for a lot of people.  When I was growing up, I was terrified of talking to girls.  I didn’t actually start asking women out until I was in college and it was a herculean effort then.  It would take me weeks to build the confidence to approach a girl and when I did it, my forehead would be shining with sweat and my armpits would be soaked afterwards.  I’ve never had much success and I’ve never stopped trying.  Today it’s not anywhere near as intimidating an experience.  Part of my expectation when I was younger was that as I got in better physical shape and accomplished more in my life, it would make me more attractive to the opposite sex.  Well, that’s proven to be both true and false.  I’ve been intimidated by women and I know what that feels like and how to overcome it.  What I don’t have as much experience with is being intimidating to women.  This is a problem that I never thought I would have.

It is not uncommon for women to very obviously avoid making eye contact with me and avoid having to talk to me, even when they know me and know me to be a nice guy.  It’s been the case on several occasions of online dating where once I reveal that I’m a motivational speaker and give some brief details of life experiences that a woman will ghost me.  I have many stories of weird behavior that I found utterly confusing from women.  Women who made advances in my direction only to shut down and shut me out later.  There are stories that you just can’t make up.  What makes this behavior really hard to decipher is the number of times I get told by women, “Travis you are a catch!”,  or, “Travis, you have no idea how many women would gladly go out with you!”  Often this candor comes from women who are already in relationships.

In searching for answers recently, the word ‘intimidating’ has come up frequently.  This was never something I foresaw as a potential problem with being physically attractive and having accomplished some significant things in life.  I guess in my engineering brain I thought, “Okay.  I’m an attractive, driven man.  Should be easy to find a relationship now.”  No bragging here folks, I get called ‘eye candy’ and get ‘cat called’ by women driving by in cars.  These things seem to indicate being physically attractive to women.  When women shut down on me it confuses the hell out of me.  I’ve compared it to the Sun.  We love sunshine and living things need it for survival but you can’t get too close or you’ll get burned up.  Women have been treating me like the Sun for the last 6-7 years.  They like looking at me and they like being around me but don’t want to get too close because my drive/ambition might burn them up.  That’s my theory anyway.  I never thought that being driven and being committed to my health would drive women away from me.  I never thought that the process of overcoming all the challenges I’ve experienced in life would make me hard to be comfortable around.  I feel like my looks ostracized me as a kid and be damned if they aren’t still ostracizing me as an adult.

I asked one friend, “Would it be better if I gained 30 lbs and started playing video games all day?!”  She strongly advised me not to do that.

So, I have a problem that was unexpected and I thought I could run away from it.  I’m realizing that I’m going to be a Unicorn no matter where I go.  It’s what makes me such a powerful communicator.  If you’ve watched my TEDx Talk, then you know that a young woman cussed me out in front of the entire lunch room on my first day of high school.  ‘Fat’, ‘Ugly’, and ‘Disgusting’ were the words she used to describe me.  Now, being described by women as ‘Eye Candy’, ‘A Catch’, and ‘Intimidating’ is a much better problem to have than the ones I had as a kid.  I’ve upgraded my problems and I’ve got to take my own medicine here.  This is the ‘unknown’ that I wasn’t prepared for and couldn’t have predicted.  Adapt and Overcome.

Personal Growth will introduce new and, I would argue, better problems into our lives.    Are you avoiding weight loss because it might be off putting to your family?  Are you hiding your ambitions because they might push people away?  Would these things be better problems than those that you contend with currently?

Make sure to share with someone who needs it!


PS – I started MMA training at a local gym here in Tacoma.  I love it!  I’ve been yearning to scratch that itch for a while.  Looking forward to sharing lessons learned.


Solve Problems. Build Resilience.

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