Coi Leray, Self-Love & Baudrillard's HyperReality: Self-Determination Theory

It would be great if the main reason we aren’t who we want to be, was due to someone else. How great would it be, to have someone we could blame for who we are. It’s one of those beliefs that’s so great, many of us choose to believe it, despite the fact that it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

The harsh truth is, your circumstances are shaped by fate. If you feel as though you aren’t where you would like to be, because of a situation you were born into, you are completely correct. You did not choose to be born, the chances that you would be were slim to none, and yet you defied all odds and came into existence. You did not choose the time period you were born in, your parents, your genetics, your defining experiences, your village, town, city, Country, continent, school, friend group. All of these things were out of your control, to some degree, for most of your life. They shape and mold you into becoming who you are.

Now that you are who you are, you feel as though you are behind in life, and helpless, and you conveniently have a laundry list of circumstances & people to blame, for your present condition. You are correct about your circumstances, they are influential in shaping who you are. Now what? That's where the argument falls apart, because time continues to move. Are you going to remain idle and stuck, complaining about things outside of yourself forever? Then you'll just wither away & perish. If you are lost in the woods, do you remain standing still & wait till night time, where animals can come out & eat you? No, you start moving & figuring things out. Figure out how to build a fire, a campsite, some food, you have to really start becoming a person during emergency situations.

"I'm off to better things

I'm only doing shit that's gonna make me elevate (Elevate, elevate)

Only want people around that's gonna make me better

Bitch, pull up in that mhm

It's so mhm (Mhm)

They ask, how I get that ooh?"

These are lyrics from the great Coi Leray's 2021 Classic 'No More Parties.' In a pop culture saturated with media that is harmful to the broader society, Coi stands out and gives us the attitude & message necessary to elevate our circumstances in life.

Our world affords us the luxury of remaining idle, stuck & complaining. I have been there, I have done that, & it lifted a bunch of weight off my shoulders, and allowed me to be bitter about not being who I would like to be. We are constantly taunted by our potential, it’s this ineffable human aspiration that is probably the reason behind the advancement of civilization. When you’re in your room & you notice how dirty it is, what you’re really noticing is how clean it could be. When you think that your life is a mess, you’re just seeing how much better it could be. When you’re complaining about your circumstances, you’re noticing how much change they require. All of those sentiments are calls to action to elevate, the reason we become bitter & resentful, is because we keep refusing the call to action. You have to be like Coi and make a decision to elevate yourself, in order to make yourself be the best version of yourself & simultaneously afford yourself a better quality of life.

People can be motivated by external factors but we are also motivated and compelled from within, by interests, curiosity, care or abiding values, that have objectively made the world a better place. These intrinsic motivations are not necessarily externally rewarded or supported, but nonetheless they can sustain passions, creativity, and sustained efforts.

The interplay between the extrinsic forces acting on a person and the intrinsic motives and needs inherent in human nature is the territory of Self-Determination Theory. The theory states that conditions supporting the individual’s experience of autonomy, competence, and relatedness are argued to foster the most high quality forms of motivation and engagement for activities, including enhanced performance, persistence, and creativity. Like Coi Leray said, self-determination is taking ownership of our lives and deciding to become better.

Life is very much a simulation, on a variety of levels. In French philosopher Jean Baudrillard's 1981 book Simulacra and Simulation, he discusses the idea of images and signs, and how they relate to our contemporary society, wherein we have replaced reality and meaning with symbols and signs; he states that what we know as reality is actually a simulation of reality. The simulacra that Baudrillard refers to are the signs of culture and media that create the reality we perceive: a world saturated with imagery, infused with communications media, sound, and commercial advertising.

Baudrillard labeled this new world a hyperreality, in which entertainment, information, and communication technologies provide experiences more intense and involving than the scenes of mundane everyday life, as well as the codes and models that structure everyday life. The realm of the hyperreal (e.g., media simulations of reality, Disneyland and amusement parks, malls and consumer fantasylands, TV sports, virtual reality games, social networking sites, and other excursions into ideal worlds) is more real than real, whereby the models, images, and codes of the hyperreal come to control thought and behavior. So much of these simulated codes and advertisements that control our way of life are lowering our self esteem, and promoting things that are harmful to our bodies, minds & the broader community, in order to keep us dependent on it. It's our job to discern through information, and seek information that helps us better our quality of life.

Another example supporting simulation theory is that everything is made up of vibrating electrons that we perceive as physical, and the Universe operates under an algorithm. In the most literal sense, life has various game like structures, with rules & regulations, game theory, evolutions, plots, patterns, paths & prizes, embedded into our DNA, and we have structured our society along the same lines. Our field of vision provides us with the information we have programmed it to value most. If I put a variety of objects on a table, you will view the table, and prioritize the information, based on what you have told your brain to value most. It's the same way the YouTube algorithm works, the more you click a video, the more that type of video will be recommended to you. If you open another person's YouTube homepage, it would look wildly different from yours, based on your clicks. In the same way, you could grow up with someone, in the same house, around the same time, and have vastly different interests & beliefs, because your brain values different things.

You have to begin cultivating the habits, mentality, attitudes, routines & skills of the person you want to become, that is nobody else’s responsibility but yours. It begins from changing what you think about when you wake up, and what you constantly tell yourself, about yourself. You must pursue & develop the mentality, the crafts, skills, education, & morals, that you would ideally have. It would be technically false to say any of us are who we will become, that’s just a fact. Nobody is getting any younger, we are constantly evolving, whether we like it or not. We will degrade ourselves both physically & mentally by remaining idle. The only time you should complain about external circumstances is if you truly live in a completely totalitarian & authoritarian state that is actively preventing you from doing the work necessary in achieving your highest potential.

We often talk about self-love in our social media culture, but self-love should not be misrepresented as self-degradation. Loving yourself is not overly indulging in the habits that make you a lesser version of yourself, that is actually self-hatred. When you love someone, you inspire them to become who you know they can be, you appeal to the best versions of them, and attempt to prevent them from sinking into the lowest version of themselves. If you’re on a diet, and you have a goal weight in mind, self love is not buying yourself KFC as a reward, that is self-degradation. If you see your best friend tell you they’re on a diet, & then proceed to get some McDonalds, if you love them, you’ll tell them they’re slipping from what you know they can be, & that’s the energy you need to keep with yourself.

Self-love is when you treat yourself by becoming all that which you can possibly be. Self-love is when you fall short, but don’t beat yourself up, & remind yourself that if you really try, you can become so much more than you are in the moment. It would be truly depressing if all that I was, was all I could have ever been. Because I used to be different & I've gotten better & I'll continue to change. We exist under the premise that the simulated landscape is an ever shifting and transforming tapestry, the laws of physics force it to be. Tectonic plates move, shake & transform shape, time continues, as do planets, as do stars. Empires rise & fall. It would be a horrible existence if everything remained idle forever. I’m still so young & uninformed about so much, I have yet to experience so much, there is so much that I want to do, see, learn, become & aspire towards, because why else am I alive? If not to fulfill my highest ideals. I can imagine all that I can be, and that’s reason enough to seek it.

The harsh truth is that, we can’t ask anyone else to make our lives better for us, & we can’t ask anyone else to fix the problems we see in the world. We can't expect politicians or businessmen to do it. Becoming the best you can possibly be is just part of your duty to existence, the alternative is refusing your calls to action, losing out on genuine meaning & becoming bitter and resentful.

Now there are times when other people attempt to prevent us from reaching our full potential. We’ve all heard that we should surround ourselves with the right people who will push us towards our goals. That is true, but we also need to have enough determination within ourselves, to pursue all that which we could become, despite what the external world tries to tell us. Your highest ideals require you to show effort, remaining idle breeds entropy. That doesn’t mean chasing fame & wealth, it means cultivating the mentality, habits, diet & skills that the best version of yourself would have, then honing them continually. Develop a mental steadfastness that allows you to deal with people as they are, and not allow it to jeopardize that which you are.

Like Coi Leray said:

My daddy let me down, but I promise you, I won't let up (I won't let up)

I wanna say fuck that man but the shit won't make me better (Make me better)

It doesn't make you better to focus on circumstances and people out of your control. If there are people around you, that you love, and you see them falling short of what they can be, we should inspire the best parts, in the best version of them, that’s what love is. But if people are content with who they are, we should not change them, we should be able to accept people, as they choose to be, and deal with them as they are, while having a stronghold on who we are, and who we are becoming.

There are certain points where a person's habits, belief systems, ideologies & perspectives are so vastly different and toxic, and at that point, it might be necessary to cut off that relationship, because this person is the antithesis of everything you want to become, they constantly belittle your aspirations or because your relationship was doing you more harm than good.

We have all been the “bad influence” friend, at one point. I definitely have. As a teenager, I have 100% been the person to inspire the worst parts in myself and every single one of my friends. You know when your mom asks if your friends would jump off the bridge, would you follow them? I'm the friend with the idea to jump off the bridge, and I inspired that in those around me, because that is what I inspired within myself, & I’m a naturally inspirational person. I would make terrible decisions, & everyone around me would make a worse decision in the process, & it afforded me a very fun life of instant gratification, but I always allowed myself to fall under my potential. I'm grateful to have had friends & family that inspire the best parts in me, and prevent me from that path, but not everyone is so lucky.

If you are capable of seeing a better path for yourself, and those around you, and you refuse to take it, then you are actively destroying the world. It’s okay, & at times necessary, to cut off the person whose behaviour is so toxic that it holds you back. That means a person who would complain about circumstances, disregard opportunities to better their situation, refuse to educate themselves, actively blame the world around them & constantly attempt to prevent you from doing something to better your life. If your friend doesn't want the best, for the best part of you, that's not your friend.

I had to do the work in myself & come to the realization that I was preventing myself from becoming all that which I could become, no one else can do that for you. Viktor Frankl said “Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become the next moment.” It's through dedicating time to cultivating the skills necessary, everyday, continually acquiring information & producing value, that you begin to move along your journey.

I decided to make a change when I took control of my life & started putting an effort into attempting to pursue the path of becoming what I know I could be. I decided to solve problems that presented themselves to me & I instantly felt a profound transformation & acquired the intrinsic value that pathway presents, when I began dedicating myself to the information, skills & ideas I needed to pursue. I genuinely can’t begin to put into words the value that the path I have chosen to pursue, in the betterment of myself & my life, has brought me in my life. The amount of joy, information, financial value, and meaningfulness, a life pursued in the attempt of achieving the greatest possible version of yourself brings, is ineffable. It brings value & meaning to yourself & the broader community if you're constantly trying to be better. The more educated you are, the more knowledgeable, skilled, informed, empathetic, communicative, creative & inspired you are, the better you can make your own individual life, and the broader world.

Make yourself all that which you could possibly be, don’t settle for what you are, love who you remain throughout. Those are the simple truths of life. Be open & receptive to new information, attempt to discern through useful, beneficial & harmful information, continue to do things that inspire you & spark your passion towards the best version of yourself.

There are things that you are interested in, & value, more than those around you, follow them. Educate yourself at all costs, information is the key to unlocking meaning & value, be it through personal experience, or the experience of others. There is useful, necessary & applicable information to solve problems directly in your own life, in your community and for the broader society. There is information that can make your life a more beautiful, secure, valuable, useful, harmonious & meaningful experience, than it is in the current moment. Read & learn, there are so many things I wish I knew before, but now that I know them, I have solved problems, & unlocked a new level of problems, & am seeking new sets of information that would guide me to solve those problems.

Miyamoto Musashi said "if you know the way broadly, you will see it in all things." When you learn anything, you elevate everything. In trying to learn and better any circumstance in your life, you elevate your existence, you make life run smoother and better, and seeing those results pushes you to continue creating, learning and elevating your life and the lives of those around you. When you have a situational problem and have solved it, you can apply the process of solving to other problematic situations. You see everything as connected and it helps you keep an open and creative mind.

That realization enhances your ability to critically think, discern, and solve problems in a creative and elegant manner. Everything from exercising, to writing poetry, making music, even juggling, if your goal is to learn and get better, you begin to excel more and more in all facets of life, you become more confident and are able to solve problems in other areas of your life, by learning the constants of practicing, learning, failing, adapting and innovating.

My drive is sparked by the knowledge that I can be better, and I can make the world around me better. I mean that genuinely, I have restructured my sphere of vision into seeing things that help me elevate closer towards my optimal self, it's part of most of my conversations, it's what I get on my YouTube homepage, it's the basis under which I meet new people. I have seen the effects of this decision in my work in my community, I have seen it in my enthusiasm, creativity & overall levels of genuine happiness & stability. I see it when I'm able to apply complex ideas in an elegant manner, in a skill I put time & effort in honing. I started seeing a different path in my field of vision, it became visible to me, after I decided to embark on the journey towards achieving self betterment.

People & circumstances along the lines of what I was pursuing began to present themselves, once I organized my mind towards that pursuit. The universe requires us to create a vague target to aim at & make a decision, to be able to perceive the pathways we need to take in order to get there. I have already made strides in my journey, I'm cultivating the necessary skills & ideas I need, to get me to where I know I need to be. I see that in the people I love too. I see it in my friends, in my parents & siblings. I see it in my nephew.

6 years ago, we took my nephew to a Karate class. The kid was scared, he could barely walk the year before, with his wobbly chubby toddler legs, & now he had to have the hand-eye coordination necessary, to fight a bunch of other kids, all the time. The kid was freaked out, his case was completely reasonable. But, here we are 6 years later, & he has elevated into a red-black belt, one belt away from a black belt. I saw the transformation, in live action. The kid could barely walk, and now he’s some karate expert, proficient in the maneuvers, stances & exercises. It was the most inspirational thing since Rocky 4.

Oftentimes, we can’t see that evolution in ourselves, but it exists. We’re constantly evolving through time, experience & information. And we can either be pebbles in the sands of time, or we can be like my nephew & go in that class & figure out how to do some Karate, until we're black belts.


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