“You’re not special.”
I read these words in the article “The Five Lies You Tell Yourself That Keep You From A Better Life Experience” on HuffPost Women, and it gave me pause. Why did it give me pause? Why did this person’s opinion cause me to question every big decision I’ve made recently? It’s because I’m guilty of telling this lie; it is precisely because I believed I am special that I was able to get behind the idea of leaving Japan, changing my career, and writing a book. So, I was thinking, if I’m not special, how is any of that going to pan out?
Judging from my reaction to reading and believing these simple words, I discovered that I have a core belief that seems to be holding me back even as it appears to be motivating me to follow my passion. The minute that belief, “I am special,” was called into question, I immediately began to doubt the legitimacy of my desire to change my situation. I started to feel foolish about the idea of writing a blog, telling my story, or anything that gave the impression that I was extraordinary. A closer examination of my motivation to do these things revealed a little arrogance on my part; something that was very difficult to recognize. However, as with most emotions that arise, I took this sense of disillusionment at the idea that I wasn’t special as an opportunity to explore the source of my motivation, and the origin of my belief that success only comes to those who are special.
First, I’d like to explore the idea that success only comes to those who are special. Where did that idea come from? I believe that it came from years of observation. Think about it? Whenever successful and influential people like Bill Gates or Albert Einstein are discussed it is almost in the spirit of awe. These people got to where they did because of something extraordinary about their personalities. They are described as extremely intelligent, or extraordinarily talented. It isn’t just through grit alone that contributed to their success. When I see articles explaining a certain number of personality traits that successful people have, or delineating the healthy habits of self-made millionaires, it gives the impression that there is something essential about these people that if imitated by us not so special people can help us succeed. This was the interpretation of my observations of successful people, but a closer examination of this perspective reveals a fundamental flaw.
Although I see these successful people as special, in interviews and biographies, it is rarely the case that these people see themselves as special. They are just following their dreams, and doing what they want to do with their lives. What I should have taken from the stories of these successful and influential people is that they believe in their own abilities and follow their desires and that coupled with hard work and dedication to their life’s work that is what makes them seem special. If that is the case, then anyone can do what the people I admire do and have done. I can do it. I don’t have to have some extraordinary talent or personality trait that magically makes it possible for me to be successful. I only need to follow my passion, commit to it, and do whatever I can to make my dream a reality.
I also question my concern with success, which in most cases relates to being influential and famous. This preoccupation with fame is a concern because it is not something I want to want. Only shallow people desire fame and I don’t want to be shallow. Furthermore, being famous is not something I feel I have control over, so it is not something with which I should concern myself. The idea of being famous is tied to the idea of being special. The former is a phenomenon beyond my control and the latter is a delusion. Neither of these ideas serve me or contribute to my growth.
So, I agree with article’s author Lisa Schmidt. I am not special. There is nothing to guarantee success, and there is the possibility that I may not see my dream come to fruition in my lifetime, but it is not the destination that matters, it is the journey. I think about what I can gain if I step out of my comfort zone and dare to put myself out there. I could learn some things about myself and the world outside of my reality bubble. When I think about the personal growth that can result from pursuing a dream that I have had for so long, I am filled with joy. More importantly, I think about the reason I am even pursuing the dream, and it isn’t for fame and fortune, it is to make a contribution to the world thereby helping to make the world a better place.
Until next time, I wish you the very best.