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The wisdom of discomfort

Posted in the following categories: Life Lessons, Personal Development

I stepped up to the podium, as I had done for 7 years, to teach Constitutional Law.

I took a deep breath to start speaking—and felt a sinking sensation in my chest.

The sensation took my breath away.

“Not again,” it seemed to say. “Not this same class again.”

Initially, I tried to suppress the sensation. After all, I had just secured tenure, a huge milestone in any academic’s journey. And there’s one thing tenured professors don’t do: stop teaching. My 5-year plan was laid out, my path seemingly clear. I was living every professor’s dream, yet within me, a voice was telling me that something was off.

On the outside, I was a rising star in my field, an academic whose serious work was admired by serious scholars.

On the inside, I was withering away. I once loved teaching—especially the thrill of igniting curiosity in my students—but that joy was fading.

And that sensation in my chest kept presenting itself.

It was a bodily messenger that seemed to say, I will not be ignored! 

The exhaustion you feel when you wake up? That’s me. 

That tightness you began to feel in your right shoulder? That’s me.

I will keep getting louder and louder and louder—until you pay attention. And if you don’t pay attention, I will turn your life upside down. 

Over time, resisting those signals became far more painful than leaning in.

So, I began a journey of introspection. Mornings spent journaling, nights reflecting before sleep, I continuously asked, “What are you trying to tell me?”

The answers didn’t arrive with a thunderous bang. Instead, they came as subtle whispers that nudged me towards a realization: The life I had carefully built was no longer where I belonged. Each class, each lecture, felt like an echo from a past that no longer resonated with who I was becoming. It was time to let go, to allow that old self to dissolve and make way for a new self to emerge.

This was hard—really hard.

It felt like a part of me was dying—because it was. I mourned the death of the professor in me, as my emerging new self tried to find a path forward.

As I let go of what once was, I felt empty. But I trusted that I would become full again—with what, I didn’t yet know.

In this emptiness, I explored various paths. I stumbled upon one that felt promising—a blog—which served as a creative outlet that brought me alive. The blog grew in popularity over time and culminated in the publication of Think Like a Rocket Scientist, marking the start of my new career as an author and speaker.

When you feel discomfort, that doesn’t mean something is wrong with you.

It means something is right with you.

It means your body is working as it should—alerting you that the cocoon you’ve built around yourself is ready to be broken so you can emerge in your new form.

Don’t suppress. Don’t numb. Don’t dissociate.

Because discomfort isn’t an enemy. It’s a guide. It’s a signal from the wisest parts of your being, urging you to explore, to grow, to transform.

Listen to that signal. It echoes the paths to futures you haven’t even imagined.

The Contrarian Handbook
The Status Quo.

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