Words by Amanda Vandenberg

Illustrations by Maria Veronica

Regularly, the world feels pinned by the weight of uncertainty, and there are moments when it hits harder than others. The way the earth is hurtling through time and space recurrently leaves us scrambling to sink our nails into something, hold on for just a moment that is long enough to feel again like we are driving ourselves rather than being taken along for a ride. But the earth is carrying us, often too quickly, and completely involuntarily.

And so we make plans. We set goals. We write to diaries. We dream. We follow paths. We sometimes get lost and we have to start again. We have existential conversations drunk in bars with strangers. We decide what we want to be. We try to be it. We try to find ourselves. We go backpacking through Europe. We work for money. We sleep less. We buy more. We move. We nest. We develop hobbies. We form connections. We make love. We have children, or adopt dogs. We get older. We feel confused. We get caught in routine. We become trapped. We have crises. And the world starts to pick up speed.

A favorite line from Italian cinema once said, “You must demand to live in a better world. Don’t be content to merely survive.”

Maybe it is when you are merely surviving that it feels most as though the world has carried you off. Maybe a better world is one that you strive to build for yourself.

World Builders are the revolutionaries who somehow outpace the premeasured ellipse this rock rolls along. They fall into three distinct categories – the Advancers, the Collaborators, and the Creators – and each is distinctive, reflecting what a person views as most important in this short lifetime. They are not determined by aptitudes or the unwittingly found path – it is intrinsically what is believed to be the purest of pursuits. And by sheer striving, they build a better world.

For those who know their path, let this serve as a toast. And for those who are unsure which to choose, let this guide serve as inspiration – a way to slow the turn of the world. By all means necessary, begin building.

THE CREATORS: Those who preserve the soul of being human

cre-a-tor [kree-ey-ter]
Adj: prolific, aesthetic, spirited, imaginative, metaphysical, grandiose, astral
Career examples: artists, philosophers, dancers, musicians, storytellers
Driving question: What is the point of life if there is no expression of self?

Historically, the Creators were the first to ask unanswerable questions: who are we, why are we here, what is the point of anything at all? Creators were the universe becoming conscious of itself. And so they passed down allegories, preserved history, formalized memory keeping, and gave faces to gods and goddesses. They asked ‘what-if,’ thought about form as well as function, painted the Lascaux Caves, adorned temples, and conceived of individuality. The questions, the stories, the differential take on myths and the self caused others to think differently, recognize kinship, make associations, feel something. Collaborators believe in constructing bridges and using abstracted means to comment on the human condition.

People who choose this world above others cannot stand to see dormancy of self or mind.

You will choose this world if you are drawn to the idea of a soul in bloom. You believe in the radical exchange of ideas, the pushing of mental boundaries, the truest form of expression from emotion. When words are not enough, you sing. While others may label the pursuits of a Creator as ‘fluff’ without direct causative purpose, you recognize these varied reflections as what make humans so singularly special. You are curious, and place stock in the journey rather than the results. Creators take the fragmentation of thought and feeling and unify them. They see, process, and provide commentary. Creators, ultimately, inform humanness.

Why are Creators important today? Being human has become increasingly formulaic. Though varied across cultures, there are marked milestones leading from birth to adolescence to adulthood that we are expected to achieve. Creators disrupt that process. They are the individuals who, in a world of expectation and ready-had information, keep us seeking to be surprised and inspired. Something currently inconceivable could become a quality of identity for millions tomorrow. There are certain phenomena of culture that now seem descriptively indivisible from the summary of our species of a whole. The next development lays dormant in the daydreams of today’s Creator.

THE COLLABORATORS: Those who work to help populations thrive

col-lab-o-rate-ors [kuh-lab-uh-reyt-ors]
Adj: compassionate, empathetic, selfless, unwavering, heroic, altruistic, dauntless

CAREER EXAMPLES: doctors, relief workers, firefighters, counselors, fitness coaches
DRIVING QUESTION: What is the point of life if it everyone is not taken care of?

Historically, the Collaborators were the glue that kept communities together. They preserved the life of the species, keeping us thriving from generation to generation. Collaborators honor traditions, are fiercely loyal, and leave no man behind. They run towards commotion and into the flames. They see service as a duty, and never put their own well-being above the well-being of the many. Collaborators realize that humankind cannot shine if there are still those weak and disenfranchised among us. Motive for innovation is often rooted in the good it will do for others – immunizations against disease, devices to purify drinking water, methods of recognizing when someone is hurting, physically and emotionally. A collaborator will never resist getting involved.

People who choose this world above others cannot stand to see injustice.

You will choose this world if you are restless and tired of disparity. When disaster strikes, you give yourself over to the cause. You are the friend voted most reliable, most honorable, most likely to stand up for your beliefs whatever the consequences. You have faith in the power of one person making a difference. People will often call them heroes, but to Collaborators, it is about the work above the acclaim. They understand the ripple effect, the interconnectedness that makes every interaction a crossroads to do good or to do nothing. Collaborators always get up to fight another day.

Why are Collaborators important today? It is easy in contemporary society to feel isolated, especially when it is often that the greatest daily one-on-one relationship individuals have is with a screen. Suddenly, the most accessible critique of villainy is done from the comfort of a couch, and it becomes rare to take direct action. Collaborators stop us from staying too comfortable. Now that we have the potential to be connected more than ever, Collaborators will be sure to put those resources to most effective use. At this moment, it is Collaborators who are keeping communities that have taken centuries to build from bursting asunder. Those who work to help populations thrive

THE ADVANCERS: Those who keep civilization moving forward

ad-vance-ers [ad-van-sers]
Adj: ingenious, original, productive, causative, resourceful, experimental, investigative

CAREER EXAMPLES: entrepreneurs, scientists, researchers, architects, explorers
DRIVING QUESTION: What is the point of life if it all remains the same?

Historically, the Advancers were the visionaries. They evolved us, discovered fire, made the first weapons, and built the first towns. They helped us beat the odds and survive. They searched for new lands, better opportunities, and innovative ways of bettering life on scales previously unfathomed. Some preferred war, but many sought peace. The eyes of the Advancer are constantly fixed at the horizon. They’re naturally born leaders, likely to get into politics, make scientific breakthroughs, or discover new planets. Advancers build us skyward. They’re striving to do more, know more, and reach further than those who ever came before them. They’re the puzzle solvers, the structure builders, the innovators. Their ethos is ‘let the great work begin.’

People who choose this world above others cannot stand to see stagnancy.

You will choose this world if the grass is greener where you are standing, because you can make something grow with the tools you are given. You will choose this world if you are a planner, a strategizer, a recognizer of gaps in technology, efficiency, and means of production. You are an Advancer if you believe humankind’s best years are ahead of us. Advancers can see the world becoming darker and formulate a plan to brighten it. The future is laid out before Advancers like an open road and they visualize the infinite steps ahead not as they are, but rather what they could come to be.

Why are Advancers important today? Sometimes it feels as though the world has become very small. Foreign lands have been mapped, modern languages have been translated, and all of the visible world has been named. But this can’t be it. This can’t be as far as we get. Advancers are necessary for seeing ahead. The world may seem small, but it is now that space has become limiting that Advancers are needed more than ever. When resources run dry, new threats emerge, and current technology fails, it will be the Advancers who, quite literally, save the day. Today, Advancers are already preparing for tomorrow.

Choosing one of these paths today means choosing to take a stand. It is a rallying attempt to save ourselves and our existence from monotony, boredom, lifelessness, and dormancy. Building worlds is meant for those striving, those who understand that merely surviving is not enough. You are a Creator/ a Collaborator/ an Advancer if you are compelled to make something rather than being consumed by nothingness. As historic trail blazers also understood, building your own world means having the limitless sky as your only witness. Perhaps we are meant to rebel against all we know in pursuit of all that is possible.