The Spider that Hung on for Dear Life

Saturday morning. The weekend. I lazily rose from bed, and walked toward the door. As I got closer, I looked to the right, where a TV used to hang. The only remnant of the TV was a big wall mount that still sat in its place. For whatever reason, I stared at the wall mount, only to recognize a thin, white, strip in the middle of my line of sight.

I looked up, and realized there was something resembling a web, so I looked back down. Bam! There it was, right in front of my face: a spider. A single thread of webbing hung from the ceiling all the way down to where I stood. The spider didn’t look like it was trying to go down; rather, it was trying to go up. It reminded me of Bruce and the spider, a famous tale in which a man forced into exile hid in a dark cave.

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There he witnessed a spider trying to make a web. The spider kept falling, but also kept getting up to try again. Was the spider going to make it to the top or fall to its death? Freshman year of high school, I hit my lowest point. I was at the ceiling, just like the spider. Then, I crashed. I began to realize (or at least assume) things about my friendships that I hadn’t before.

I began to doubt whether my friends were actually my friends or whether they were just “friends.” Of course, this was a time when I heavily cared about making friends. I went to a small charter school and wanted to fit in. However, something was wrong. I definitely didn’t fit in; I kept thinking something was wrong with me. I became frustrated, thinking I was worthless and wasn’t going to become anything meaningful.

I had fallen and was hanging by a dear thread, just like the spider. People say, you are what you think you are. Although I had commendable grades and was enjoying my hobbies, I still had low self-esteem and struggled to maintain friendships. I had never given thought to the fact that maybe I was just being friends with the wrong people, or that there was something more to me that I hadn’t realized. Fast forward to the summer of senior year, when I had my “awakening,” as I like to call it.

I remembered how as a kid, I used to be a total bookworm and would read all kinds of books in class; my friend from 3rd grade, who now attends college with me says, “Hey, remember those rattlesnake books you used to read?” I hadn’t even remembered telling anyone that I liked snakes so much, and yet here I am with someone who remembers that bookworm. Vampire romance, fictitious adventure, anatomy, animals, space, you name it. I found the one thing that I had been missing for so long: my curiosity. As soon as that came back, my life drastically changed. I was in a better place mentally than I ever was before, and the curiosity enabled me to venture deeper into myself and even find a side of me I never knew existed: my entrepreneurial side.

That spider died. I killed it. While spiders do fascinate me, I’m also terrified of them. The thought of having one of them crawl on me or bite me will keep me shuddering in bed at night. I can recall one incident when I saw a spider on the window of a car and instinctively jerked my leg; unfortunately, my foot hit a sharp object underneath the car seat that tore open some skin between my toes, which started bleeding.

Bright. Red. Blood. Interestingly, I didn’t feel anything. I was paying attention to where the spider was.

The spider wasn’t the only thing that died. As I began to find myself, or maybe on a deeper level, my old self, the impostor me that was trying to fit in with the rest of the crowd was withering away. Looking back at the spider, I can imagine its struggle to climb up while hanging onto to a thin thread. During my low point, I also was pointlessly hanging onto this thin thread because I didn’t know what would happen if I let go. I was afraid of the unknown, and being uncomfortable. Afraid of spiders? Heh.

Talk about completely turning your life upside down and not knowing what to expect. I woke up every day walking down a path having no idea what was ahead, but I knew there was something better than what I was feeling at that moment. I knew that this renewed curiosity would take me to a better place in my head, and in the world. In hindsight, I would say that just like my exaggerated fear of spiders, which caused my injury in that car, my unwillingness at the time to jump off the cliff of comfortability had me missing out on a world filled with opportunity and meaningful connections. My senior year of high school and on into my first year of college, down this path, have I discovered my entrepreneurial self and am able to shape my identity because of it. I have been able to interact with so many incredible people, and the best part is, I’m just getting started.

I was able to remove the toxicity from my life, which was largely coming from myself and even unbeknownst to myself: the people around me. The saying that you are the average of the five people around you is so fascinatingly true. I understand that not everybody feels comfortable letting go of what they know and letting go of the toxic people around them. We grow attached to people and our insecurities compound on our fear of letting them go, even if the relationship between the individuals is detrimental, or borderline harmful. We want to be able to form emotional connections with others and fit in. It’s not easy.

It took many years just to get myself positioned in this way, and after, to be able to make the decisions I had to make so that I could grow, such as letting go of those around me that didn’t fit me and were holding me back. There was no value I could provide to them either. Being entrepreneurial, I am extremely driven and want to be around change makers, innovators, and the like. I suffocate around negativity and hate mediocrity. I have told this story to others and they give me many excuses as to why they can’t do it themselves, and I can understand where they are coming from. But I have one thing to say to this: if you’re happy, and content with where you are, then I have nothing more to say to you, because you are already on the path that is taking you where you want to be.

However, if you feel like there’s that thing in your life that is missing or feels empty, take that jump. Get comfortable in the uncomfortable; be willing to venture down a path that you may have a hard time seeing the end of, because the journey will bring the change to your life that you are looking for. It’s hard. But gaining anything valuable takes time, and anything worth fighting for is difficult to get. It may sound cliche, but there’s a lot of truth to it. You may find a side of yourself you never knew existed.

Your life may improve in ways you never imagined. You’ll build relationships that are much greater, once you’ve started to become more in tune with yourself. Want to conquer the world? Conquer yourself first. The spider’s life ended abruptly that day, but the impostor within me “ended” just as quickly. Instead of holding on to something I didn’t truly believe in because I was afraid of the path that would separate from me the crowd, I decided to just take the jump and let the path take me where it may because I knew it had to be better than where I was.

It has been. On levels I couldn’t have imagined. I have become much happier, have met many incredible people, and have started to do a lot of meaningful work. This story has just begun.