March to Your Own Beat, or Don't

Just Do You

Harsh, but true. Frank Zappa was one of the most legendary musicians to ever live, and his genius was the result of following his own trajectory and doing exactly what he wanted to do, regardless of what was popular or safe (musically or otherwise). He was able to live his life the way he envisioned he ought to, taking advice where he could and either using it or not. However, of the 60+ albums he produced, he hardly ever, if at all, followed the beaten path. While Frank Zappa was obviously a unique, one-of-a-kind person whose methods worked for him in his own time, his message should be taken to heart one way or another. Digest it, and either use it or don't. I’ll tell you how you can try to do both! Let me explain…

Find the Right Speed

Being caught up in work can have various effects on a person. You can become overwhelmed to a point where you have so many things on your plate that you decide to do nothing. You invent ways to avoid progress — a quick social media check, a quick snack, a quick trip to the mailbox, a quick TV show… before you know it, another day is gone with the excuse “No worries, I’ll get back on track tomorrow.” This is a scary spiral into mediocrity which you must push through and avoid. Breaks are necessary, but they’re only an option when you deserve a break in the first place. Another way being caught up in your work can impact you is when you work without stopping, in large chunks of time; you work straight through the day, putting off meals or other necessities like exercise or those all-important decompression breaks, where you, in fact, do nothing. 

Question Everything

Regardless of your work ethic, you will no doubt be told by teachers, parents, or other influences in your life about how you should live and what you should strive for. Here’s what they may forget to tell you: everyone learns, thinks, and operates at a different speed and on different fuel. What works for one may not work for another. If you’re told you need to go to X college to major in Y and become Z, take a step back. Is this what you want to do, or is it what you’re “supposed” to do? Comfort is not gauged by security and doesn’t always yield happiness. Making difficult choices reveals a side of you which in more comfortable conditions may not have been possible to see. 

Stand Up

The meat of Zappa’s quote is to not fold under the pressure of what society says you should do. It exudes confident defiance. My takeaway is you should hear and respect (most of the time) everything you're told, but in the end, you need to make your own choice. A wise person told me that I’m never smarter for not knowing something. Take information and suggestions where you can get them, but don’t ignore your own thoughts and aspirations. Make decisions based on your own feelings. If you’ve ever tried to walk in somebody else’s footsteps in the sand on a beach, it never quite fits, does it? Some sand will always fall from the edges. The same is true in life. Take influence where you find it, and use it to make your own footprints on the world.