A friend recently posted an article on Facebook (not hers but you can see it here) that, to me, rather encapsulated something I’ve been trying to say for ages without ever really finding the words. And here it is.
We all really REALLY need to be able to share our unique gifts with the world to be the best version of ourselves we can be.
Not the things our boss or our CV or a career adviser tells us we’re good at. Not the things that we think we “should” be good at, but the things that can’t, don’t and won’t go away. Even if we really try to hide them for fear of ridicule.
In the article, the Dalai Lama speaks about the need for a society where everyone is able to meaningfully contribute, and the positive effect that would have on societal anxiety and I have to agree. But also, and I’m not sure it’s the done thing to even partly disagree with the Dalai Lama — I’m not sure it even goes far enough. And here’s why….
Sounds a bit deep eh? Well, think about it.
We are, without any shadow of a doubt, individuals. Even the most identical of identical twins are individuals with unique viewpoints and experiences of the world. And, therefore, we each have unique and individual strengths and skills and talents — things that no one else can do in the same way as we can.
Got that? OK, so hold that thought.
So at first glance, it seems that one way or another we should have all the skills we could ever need to solve any problem that happens to befall our lonely little planet. And in so-doing we’re easing our collective anxiety. Win-win.
BUT…and I know you all saw this coming. It’s not like that is it. Instead we seem to have a bit of a problem on our hands. Let me break it down for you.
Point 1: We’re all individuals with different talents and skills all with a mission to improve our world
Point 2: We need to be able to express ourselves through these various talents to ease our anxiety and not be so damn evil to each other (you’re starting to see a problem aren’t you)
Point 3: From a very early age, vast numbers of us are positively encouraged to become clones of an ideal — to do the safe thing, the “right” thing — the thing that people approve of, that doesn’t rock the boat, that’s perceived to be best by “others” — the thing that doesn’t’ disrupt the status quo.
Point 4: Due to the incompatibility of Point 3 with Points 1 and 2, we suffer from mass collective anxiety, spend our lives annoyed by everyone and everything, we end up with dubious National and International leadership and programmes like “The Apprentice” and “X-Factor” that actively encourage people to talk about themselves in the third person and stab each other in the back. Big topic jump in one sentence there. Oops.
But you see my point — we live in a society that values a very specific type of perfection over valuable experience. A society where language has changed to the point that no longer do we even talk of “making failures” but instead we ARE failures personified — a relatively recent historical quirk.
What is with that?
And the question you have to ask yourself is how it is possible to fail if we’re doing the things we’re best at for the benefit of the greater good.
And the answer that keeps coming back to me is that we can’t possibly fail in that scenario.
We can’t fail because there’s no comparison.
We can’t fail because there’s no competition.
We can’t fail because we’re positively contributing and learning for the benefit of everyone.
We can’t fail because we’re encouraging honesty and authenticity and integrity and vulnerability and contribution.
And one last point — how the hell can you be a failure if you’re just being you?
In fact, you can’t even really attempt to improve anything if you’re relying on perfection because, by it’s very nature, improvement requires trying something new and different, Which, of course, has an inherent level of risk that any die-hard perfectionist is unlikely to tolerate. And so, by extension, EVERYTHING you do, say or see, as a perfectionist improver, will, likely be either doubtful or so late in delivery as to be pretty much useless to the general population. And breathe.
So…bringing it back to you — seeing as I wrote this for you — why do I even bring this up?
Well, because if you’re anything like me, the little voices in your head rear up every now and again to have a nasty little word in your ear and make you feel like a stupid bloody oddball who’s created a mad world of crazy ideas to pass the time of day. And any way to quieten or silence that pesky little monkey on your shoulders is useful.
REMEMBER: this thing you feel every day — that feeling you get that there’s more out there for you, even though you’re life’s good and you have everything others could ever dream of — it’s perfectly normal.
And in fact, I could go so far as to say (admittedly from a place of my own gut instinct and no scientific proof whatsoever) that we’re genetically programmed to feel the pull of our society’s needs and fulfill those needs at that high level.
If you can accept that the Dalai Lama and I may have a point, there may be two benefits in it for you:
- You can stop beating yourself up about wanting and, dare I say it, needing more for and from your life so that you can be your best self and live your best life.
- You can push away those little fears that crop up on a daily basis and banish them to the “Don’t be so selfish, I’ve got a real world-changing job to do here” box
ALSO REMEMBER: You’re not the only one to want more for yourself, to feel like you have more you want to experience and contribute. You’re not alone, you aren’t the first and you won’t be the last. So get out there and create the legacy that will encourage others to do the same and rid our unfortunate planet of all this blinking anxiety.
Originally published at kirstystarmer.com.
Originally published at medium.com