You need other people to succeed in life, but they’re also your greatest impediment.
All the good we do in this world we do for, and because of, other humans. We care for them, raise them, feed them, motivate them, help them, protect them. Simultaneously, all of these efforts are impeded by other other people – they will distract you, attack you, hinder you and rob you.
They’re worth it regardless, but we have to be vigilant.
If you don’t think crab pot mentality is real – then go out to the bar with people you knew in high school, but tell them you don’t drink. Or go to a family gathering for the holidays but tell them you’re on a diet. Or decline an invitation to an event you could afford because you’re being frugal. You’ll see.
The socially-safe route through life is one of sloth and dependence. The lower the bar of your ambitions, the easier it is to find “your people” and have a lazy river carry you through life. The path of greater virtue and reward is harder and more rapid, but perhaps the hardest thing about it is how many people don’t want you to do it.
The best thing to do is to avoid the crab pots altogether. Instead of trying to tell a bunch of alcoholics that you don’t drink, don’t go out with them in the first place. If your co-workers are telling you not to “stick your neck out,” then rather than try to convince them otherwise, you should quit and find a better environment.
Some people will read this and interpret it as me advocating for a radical autonomy, but quite the opposite. I think it’s vital to find your tribe. To have your friends, your circle, your people, your society. I just advocate being selective as heck about it.
Some great advice I once heard: “If you find you’re the smartest person in the room, find a better room.” That’s true, and you can replace “smartest” with any other positive attribute – hardest working, most creative, etc.
The world is too full of amazing people to waste time with crabs.