My parents have been telling me from earlier than I can remember that I was exceptional. I was the smartest kid around. The greatest philosopher. The best writer. A talent in all sports from chess to triatlon. An academic. A master student. A money expert. And a lot of other things I’ve managed to erase from my memory.
This way of thinking set me on a course of success and highs with awards, world-wide travels, plenty of stories to tell and impressive personal records and it also made me believe I was better than the rest of the world. That I was a number 1 special entity while the others (except a few good friends) were flawed, not complete and not interesting.
I think I’ve always been relatively cautious and I didn’t run around telling how cool I was. But, for example, listening to others rather than telling my own stories – is still a challenge.
Realizing that I was flawed and had unsolvable issues (just like you do), took me more than 25 years. It came as a shock. It didn’t let me sleep for weeks and challenged most important relations of my life. But overcoming the shock was a huge relief and a very deep breath of fresh air: a new life, indeed.
Suddenly I understood that the strategy I’d had before: not to ever feel bad for even a second, live a life in constant excitement and seizing the day every day – was not only inhuman but utterly superficial too.
This is what it is. Believing that you are special and important is superficial. And superficial people usually have issues understanding even the basics of human life: birth, long lasting relationships, family, parenthood, retirement, death. Superficial people are very often unsuccessful at the end. No matter that you travel 175 countries, have sex with 250 women and earn 35 million dollars – you can still remain a loser.
All we need to do is navigate to a news site or turn on the TV and in a second we are shown people at incredible highs and lows. An average Joe wins a million dollars on the lottery. A guy is elected US president. A 24 year old female pilot becomes an Instagram heroine. At the same time a guy drives a truck into the crowd. Another one kills his own father. Families are killed by the thousands in Myanmar. Etc.
Being the fastest Marathon runner of the world seems special. Training for 15 years to get there, every day? An average Monday afternoon for this guy now? He’s running. Again? Running!? Of all the things he could do? I don’t think he’s so special.
Being a headline politician seems special. Going to meetings on weekends for 4 decades, owing favours to dozens of high rollers, being dirty and working late nights? An average Monday afternoon filled with paperwork and quarrels with the secretary? Not so special.
Breaking news and their “special people” whom we forget about in 5 seconds or the next day are not real. You are shown extreme highs and lows but nothing from the rest. Your friends, your family, yourself: you are all real, on the other hand.
Living a real life and not willing to be so special and important is a relief that can help you more than Jesus Christ. Not wanting to have the best phone, the most expensive suit, the highest paid position, the fanciest partner and the presidential suite is a relief. You let these fake dreams go and you can live your average life and pursue your average dreams. Let it be laying in your sofa for a couple months, going to Africa to help, buying an apartment after 30 years of paying credits, take care of your family, party hard for a year or live in Tunisia for the rest of the year.
The ugly truth is that you are not very special and important. And the pleasant relief is that none of us are… Realizing this shall make you believe that what you are doing right now, today, this week, month and year is real and important. Even if your work never receives much publicity, your face will never be on the headline and millions of people won’t recognize you, your life and actions matter a lot, nevertheless… And usually they matter the most for the people that you care about…
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