I’m 19 years old in my college dorm room in Montreal. I’ve never felt more confused in my life. I’m questioning reality. I don’t know who I am. I can’t look people in the eyes without feeling a pang of anxiety. I have terrible grades in school. I don’t know who to trust.
I’ve smoked weed or drank nearly every day for the last year. Mom and dad don’t know it. Most people don’t know how bad it is. Everything feels blurry. I think I’m going crazy.
Something needs to change.
I go to my dresser, find my notebook, and pull out the first blank page.
I've never written anything useful here.
I don’t know where to start.
But I know I have to start today.
So I jot down “August 13, 2011. Day 1.”
No more drinking or smoking from this day forward.
At this point in my life, this is as daunting a task as going to space. It’s impossible. Who will be friends with me if I don’t get high or drunk? How can I possibly socialize with people? I’m known as the guy who does this. What happens when I don’t anymore?
But I have no choice.
Day 1 comes and goes. I pass on a joint. I say no to a drink. Check.
Day 2 rolls around and I do the same. I put down another mark. Check.
Weeks go by and I start to feel like my closest friend is this piece of paper taped to my wall. Saying no is hard. Turning down people makes you feel like an outcast. Being sober at a party feels odd. But having this daily reminder that I’m going in the right direction is all I need.
Day after day I find solace in the accumulating markings on that sheet of paper.
Soon I’m getting straight A’s in school. I’ve stopped smoking weed and learned to control my drinking. I’m reading more. I’m making new friends. I’ve started to dream of what else is possible.
Seeing how well this works, I now decide to draw my dream: It’s three people - stick figures because I can’t draw - in a room with three desks, two beds and one couch. We’re all cranking away on our laptops. It’s night-time. These are my best friends and we’re working on a project together. We’re sacrificing everything for it. I don’t know who these friends are. I don’t know what this project is. But it’s the life I want.
That drawing was made two years before I met Thomas, Ammar and Derin.
I look back on August 13, 2011 and what followed and am reminded of the magic of a pen and paper.
Of the power to redraw your life.
Nothing is real until it’s out of your head.
Any goal, dream, thought or idea is intangible in your mind. It’s imaginary. Floating back and forth, washed away by an endless flood of distractions.
Yet when it’s put down on paper, it becomes as strong as iron.
It’s immovable. Tangible. No longer a figment of your imagination. It stares back at you. Unwilling to compromise. A constant reminder of what you promised to yourself.
Don’t underestimate this power.
August 11, 2011 was the first time I did but I haven’t stopped since. Anything I’ve ever achieved was first written down in my journal.
I drew out my dreams and made them come true.
I, as Lin Manuel Miranda wrote, picked up a pen and wrote my own deliverance.
You can too.
PS - We've just launched the first ever Seek Discomfort journal. We’ve specifically curated it to make you dig deep, answer the right questions, be intentional about your day, and reflect in the right way. It covers 100 days. It’s unbelievable what kind of transformations can happen in that amount of time. If you feel stuck. If you want to start living intentionally. This will help. And because I love you, the newsletter fam is getting early access to it for the next two days before it goes live to everyone else.