There is a picture of human life from John Stuart Mill that is well-worth thinking about:
We are, following this fitting metaphor, rooted in certain foundations – of biology and cultural backgrounds – but also growing over time.
This growth will be influenced by outside factors, but also follow forces of our own lives.
And of course, being humans, the force of our life is also conscious; even as winds of change beat us, we can (at least to some extent) decide whether we will go along with them or oppose them, and come to very different shapes of lives.
Even as a basic outline of life is likely to happen, as most of us start going our own ways, get into partnerships, have children, grow old and want to work less, there is also quite a variety of forms that this pattern will take in practice.
Why does this matter?
Because you are not free to do and live like anything you want. No matter how often lifehackers and motivational speakers tell you that you can be *anything* you want.
But within the patterns we’re made to follow and given the material we have to work with, we can shape our lives.
And in the shaping, we can really express ourselves.
We can express ourselves if we express ourselves and shape our lives the way we want to.
Not if we just follow other’s lives, be that in terms of the cultural and social pressures others want us to follow, or the examples of the great and successful we sometimes want to life-hackingly emulate.
Draw inspiration from others if you will, but don’t live their life.
Live your own life.