I’m in LA right now for Head in the Clouds, one of the first music festivals where I actually am a big fan of a lot of the artists who are performing. I’m sitting in a coffee shop right now in Pasadena, nursing an espresso tonic with slices of dehydrated citrus. The space is bright and airy, featuring an exhibit showcasing the people and stories behind the homeless. On one wall hangs a couple posters, piercing questions set on white font against a black background.

“How do you treat people who you see living on the street?”

“If you could talk to one of the individuals in this exhibit, what would you say to them?”

So often, we choose to ignore that which is difficult to face to spare ourselves pain. This is called the ostrich effect, named after the tendency for ostriches to bury their heads in the sand in the face of danger.

There seems to be a natural separation between those who can face what’s important but hard head-on unfailingly and those who have accustomed themselves to running away from hard confrontations. I think the latter have also formed the ability to stick up for the things they believe in even when it may not be the thing that everyone else is pushing for. It takes guts to take action contrary to the status quo, but that courage can be learnt. It’s only through taking repeated action towards what you believe and continually expressing yourself truly that you can become one of the warriors for the cause you believe in.

I have a tendency to waver when it comes to the things that scare me. I start to doubt myself, questioning both my abilities and my position. It feels like the world falls away, and I’m left teetering on a tight rope. In balance, the more you try to do better or work harder, the harder it becomes to be successful. It’s a simple paradox that transfers to many other challenges in life, where the answer to doing better is not putting in more effort and impatiently expecting better results as a natural conclusion. The counterintuitive answer is to let go of your expectations of greatness and assumptions around how to improve. Focusing on yourself and trusting your instinct actually helps you to do better, allowing your body to do what it already knows, achieving a sense of peace on a dangerous balancing act.

This is the 81st installment in my experiment of publishing raw, lightly edited mini-essays every day towards achieving 100 public pieces. Check out the rationale and the full list here.