It takes a lot of rainwater for a thick-furred animal to get soaked down to its skin. Most of the water slides off while the critter isn’t paying attention, so it might get a zillion raindrops onto its body before it goes ‘hey, I’m cold’ to itself. So, it will sit out in the rain for however long, then it will dawn on them that they’re getting wet… and that maybe it would be a good thing to go inside.
Humans get learning and information blind in much the same way… we’ll be out in the world, immersed in all types of information, from hints of better car insurance to the Grand Unified Theory of Magic ™, and we’re forced to filter this stuff to get the pertinent (to us) information from it. After a while of seeing many of the same things over and over, does it really sink in. There’s some folks who it doesn’t take much exposure. There’s others who have to be drenched in the information to truly understand it.
Learning is a continuing process. Sometimes, the messages are forgotten. Sometimes, the messages need to be repurposed. Sometimes… the lessons are so basic that the real gist of it is completely and totally missed. There’s some times that I totally and completely forget that I’m a unique and special individual. That’s one of the things that makes me awesome, after all, because I’m the only one who can offer my particular opinion and my particular writing style into the mix. I don’t write like a Leo Babauta, nor do I write like Nina Yau, or Celestine Chua or Tyler Tervooren, or even Harry Coburn. It pains me that I have to deal with the irritation of having to refer back to lessons that I taught myself several months ago.
In the beginning, the questions and self doubt would hit me with such force that I’d be taken out of the picture for several days. The project would stop because it had been done before. The project would stop because I knew that there were folks who could do it better. The project would stop because something would change enough so that I would suddenly see the whole thing as trite and toss it into the disposal. I’d wonder whether I was worthy, or whether I could do it, and I’d be stymied by the fears that I had. I’d realize that the solution to that problem was the fact that I’m not providing the same… I’m providing something unique to the playing field. And then I’d continue.
The vivid reality that I hadn’t truly learned the lesson would whack me down and kick my ass a week later. I would be working on something new, trying to achieve the dreams that I’ve got of being awesome and then something would happen. I’d fall into that death spiral again, shaking my head and beating at the walls to try to get out of the cage that I’d put myself into. I’d try valiantly to escape from my personal traps, and would be released when I came to the same realization that I had the week before.
Then something started to happen. I’d keep pursuing and keep pursuing, and the question/angsty phase wouldn’t come but every week and a half, then every two weeks. The answers were starting to sink in. The problems were also starting to transform themselves. Instead of being concerned about the competition and whether I’d be doing something remarkable, I’d be worried about whether I’d actually picked the right fight, and picked the right thing to be passionate about. I would become worried that if I’d picked the wrong battle that there would be unyielding and uncompromising retribution from the powers that be – almost like the fiery pit of hell for sinners that evangelists promise.
So, that would block me from actually getting stuff done. I would worry about whether I’d picked the right dog in the fight. I’d worry about whether I’d win or lose. I’d worry about the personal level of commitment and devotion that I had to the project. And then the two concerns – being trite and being right – would start to work in tandem with one another, conspiring against me so that I wouldn’t get a damned thing done. I’d be cowed into thinking about what ‘so and so’ thought of me, and believing that it was a sort of gospel.
Being worried about pleasing someone and conforming to their wishes is an excellent way to keep yourself in the chair. Don’t act as if you’re waiting for the approval, because you know damned well that your project for the pursuit of personal awesomeness will be back-burnered by those folks who are looking out for their own interests. You might as well get over waiting for the stamp of approval and get on with living. You’ll receive objections, and those objections need to be faced with objectivity.
My third concern that comes up and whacks me over the head is, “Am I the best?” Of course, if I wasn’t going to be the absolute best at what I did, there was no point. I wanted to be the best writer, affect the most people, kick the most ass, sing the most songs, and generally wallow in the whole idea that I was number one at something. I would look at the greats in any field and see if there were any chinks in the armor… that I could somehow be the best at that, knocking them off of their throne. When working with the other two concerns, there’s a serious formula for meh’ness, unremarkability, and general laziness.
Best is a subjective term, because you want to be the best something. I want to be the best rocket scientist. Well, okay… what are the parameters for ‘best’ here? Is it who published the most papers? How about who gets along with the other scientists? We’re all different, and there really is no normal. So, you have to be the one to decide what the ‘best’ is, and lose the concept of competition from your daily diet. That competition that you’ve got doesn’t help, because every single one of us is different. This is the lesson: You are not taking the test of life, you are MAKING the test of life.
Worried about being trite? Your voice is unique and different, and may teach others.
Worried about being right? Those other people really don’t matter. Getting judged is a part of the game.
Worried about being best? You create your own playing field, so you determine what ‘best’ is.
You know what the best solution that I’ve found to all three of these concerns? Keep moving. Keep going. Push yourself through the aggravation and worry about editing when you’re done. That’s the lesson of the awesome – just keep moving, and bathe often in the tub of life’s lessons.