Solemn do people follow their own advice and I am one of the chief perpetrators. On September 9th 2015, I wrote: do not set yourself guidelines and restrictions on how and when to change. Change occurs gradually and if you are stuck in the same environment, the only way to get better is by modifying the small stuff and you’ll realise that the big stuff will slowly start to take form. Just remember, it takes time and most importantly perseverance to get where you want to be. I like to sign off my journal entries with the date and time just to be able to look back and see if I have changed in any way. However, to this day, I still struggle to follow this advice of mine.
We often give ourselves deadlines for at what stage in life we should achieve certain things and when we don’t, we become disappointed. We look around and see our friends graduating, moving up the career ladder, getting married…etc while we seem to be stuck in the same old rut. In the age of social media, we are constantly fed this “perfect” world. Although we all acknowledge that most of it is just for show, we buy into it, we want it, and we constantly compare what others have and are doing to our current state. However, we should not limit ourselves to the extent of someone else’s reality. Rather than making others the bench mark, we should envision the best possible version of ourselves and strive towards it.
It is this comparison to others that leads to insecurity and ultimately inactivity. In my case, I compare myself to other writers to the extent that I feel as if I have nothing to add to the ever growing platform. It seems that everything that I want to say has already been covered by someone else who is more articulate and well-read than I. As if my words are siphoned off by others who don’t know me but know my experiences. Consequently, I stop writing.
I manage to convince myself that I will one day just morph into everything that I’ve wanted to be. We bank our hopes and dreams on a tomorrow. Like tomorrow, I’ll start writing again, tomorrow, I’ll go to the gym, tomorrow, I’ll finally have to courage to say how I feel. ‘Tomorrow’ is just a retirement home for dreams and empty promises. Life passes us by until we one day wake up to realise that time is a thief which has robbed us of our dreams.
It takes effort. Everyone can write but only those who do it consistently and are courageous enough to place their work under public scrutiny are branded the title of ‘writer’. This goes for any other profession. We all possess the pre-requisite skills to succeed in any field, but the thing that hold us back is often ourselves, pertinently, our doubts in our ability. We believe that if we are not exceptionally good at something from the get go then we will never be able to stand out from the crowd of other people who are doing the exact same things as we are. We crave to be different, that our ability will outshine that of our peers.
This high expectation that we place upon ourselves, although leads us to do remarkable things, is a double edged sword. We never seem satisfied with our own achievements. What others revere in us, we view as a room for improvement. Consequently, mediocrity may as well be classed in the same group as failure. It’s tiring running in a perpetual hamster wheel of targets and goals, walking the same path as countless before but trying to leave your own notable mark.
I remember during Uni freshers week we had an activity in which we all had to state something unique about ourselves. I genuinely could not think of anything that distinguished me from anyone else, so I responded that there was nothing unique about me. To this day, I am resolute in this belief. My experiences and achievements are mimicked by many: many have gone to Uni, many share my background, many have worked in the same places I have, and few share my name. I suppose the only unique aspect of my being is how all these experience are subsumed within me; there is no one who shares my name, who is a graduate of psychology from the same Uni and same year that also has a blog writing the same things I do. My singular experiences are not unique, the only inimitable thing is how these experiences are combined to form my existence. Ironically, this acknowledgement of my mundanity is the very impetus behind my desire to be remarkable.
The truth is, you often won’t stand out. In fact, at times, you will be plagued with an inferiority complex. However, no matter how average (or below average) you may be, you still have to work to get where you want to be. In a few years time when you look back, you will thank yourself for not giving up. For not resigning yourself in the belief that you will never improve or be highly regarded in any given field. Despite what I often think, 21 or even 70 is not too old to start working on yourself. There is no age limit to the potential for growth and acquiring knowledge.
So as an advice to myself first and foremost: be brave enough to fight that voice inside of you that tempts you to give up. I know it’s tiring but you must fight yourself FOR yourself. So stand, sit, lie down or whatever and fight. Make a routine that you can realistically stick to. You will not always succeed. At first, I guarantee you that the weight of your failures will threaten to sink you into an abyss of hopelessness, but it will get easier. It has to right?