Here’s a new one for ya.
Something people don’t tell you about when the things you once dreamed of start happening.
Something they maybe don’t tell you because maybe some people don’t think like this — but I do, so I’ll tell you:
When you get the things you once dreamed of, there’s this little nagging inkling you get that maybe you’re not that special after all.
I’ve dealt with self-doubt and imposter syndrome, of course. I still do. But I’ve never thought I was undeserving of my dreams.
And look: it’s not that I think I’m undeserving now. It’s, I think, that I’ve spent so long looking up at my dreams. Putting them on this pedestal, dreams that only a chosen few get to have as their reality. People with a preternatural way of walking through the world, whether it be because of their gifts or their status or the games they play so well so often.
And so when I, a seemingly normal and average person, with great ambitions but greater boundaries, gets what they’ve gone after, it makes me think…well, if I can do it, maybe it wasn’t such a special thing to achieve after all.
Maybe I’m not so special either.
Maybe all this time, I’ve been mistaken.
Lately my writing has been seeming trivial. It’s not that I’m not inspired, it’s just that I seem to see my output everywhere else but myself. Maybe it’s the algorithms or maybe it’s that one Law-Of-Attraction-type rule that says you see what you focus on (don’t look at anything blue = all you see is blue), or maybe it’s because I just milked everything I could muster up into a book over the last five years that’s finally off to production and out of my hands for the first time in half a decade. (It’s probably that one.)
But at times I think maybe it’s that what I see out there feels either way more simplistic or way more complex than what I have to offer. There are people who seem to have mastered at least one of those extremes — the super quick n’ easy digestible bites everyone loves to share, or the complicated braided sentences too beautiful to believe came from a mere mortal — while I’m here somewhere in the middle. Too complex to be boiled down, too casual to be philosophical. I try and it feels like I fail.
And yet and yet and yet but also — my years of coaching and therapy have taught me to be mindful of universal quantifiers. This feeling I get: does this happen everywhere, all the time? Not entirely. When I write then look to see the Likes and the Reach, my heart wobbles. Sometimes it swells if the system favors me that day, but usually that’s just a set-up for a dip later down the line when, I dunno, I post at like 10:24am EST on a Saturday or something. Some day or some time that’s “not a good time to share” because the internet analytics says so.
As I sit here and write this in the almost-dark (my favorite, along with almost-quiet) I ask myself what it is exactly that makes me feel so unspecial. So ordinary and unimpressive. And why, exactly, impressiveness is a barometer I *still* use to tell me how to feel about “how I’m doing” in life. And I think about what is it that is so bad about being ordinary.
And I think, it goes back to an old fear of disappearing like static on an old school TV screen. Starting off as Must-See-TV then becoming a blurred version of myself, fuzzy, until all I am is indistinguishable dots of 0s and 1s. Just another so-and-so.
But also, maybe, I think, that’s what it all WANTS me to think.
Maybe the system, the machine, the algorithm, the whatever, wants me to lean into that feeling of ordinaryness. That feeling that I’m too much, or too little, but never ever so JUST-RIGHT that I not only hit the sweet spot but luxuriously linger there.
And then I challenge that thought and I say no way.
No way will I go into another month, year, or moment chasing SPECIAL.
Special is subjective and I have no interest in what’s fleeting.
I ask myself what I can believe to be true about who I am, and the thing I can come back to over and over is that I am the most ME I can be.
And that, I think, is maybe an extraordinary way to live life:
As no one else but who you are.
I will still chase my dreams and maybe I’ll even reach them. But instead of allowing them to sway me one way or the other, maybe what I’ll do is work on enjoying how nothing is ever as it seems.
What they don’t tell you is that there’s so much they don’t tell you. Maybe, for once, I’ll try something new: standing firm in the foundation of my own selfhood, and allowing myself to experience the journey without being of it.
Maybe that’ll help me step back a little, marvel at my dreams, and say once again:
Well Isn’t That Special.
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