Chapter #3: You Are NOT Special
In the 1960s, research found that people who thought highly about themselves generally performed better and created fewer problems. With the aim of helping people develop high self-esteem, things like grades inflation, certificates of participation and bogus trophies were introduced to help less successful people feel better about themselves.
Sadly, this did not work and now we have realized that negative experience (failure and adversity) are essential for developing strong minded and successful adults.
When EVERYONE was told by celebrities and life coaches that they were exceptional and destined to become great, despite the fact that this statement was paradoxical, they started believing it. Many people become indifferent to criticism and think that other people are just jealous and ignorant to fail to see how great they are. In other words, they start to feel entitled and think that they deserve greatness without going the extra mile required to excel and become exceptional.
Entitled people can adopt either of the following opinions:
- I’m pathetic and everyone else is awesome, so I deserve special attention.
- I’m awesome and everyone else sucks, so I deserve special attention
This call for special attention is a problem because in order for us to solve our problems, we must realize that there is nothing unique or new about our problems. Millions of people went through and will go through similar problems. To solve your problems, you must stop feeling entitled to special treatment. When you internalize the fact that the world does not revolve around you, you start treating others with the respect and kindness that they deserve. You become less selfish and empathic to the needs of other people. This is what builds true relationships.
The tyranny of exceptionalism
Since becoming great at something requires continuous effort and a huge investment of time, it becomes impossible to be great at everything that we do in our life owing to its limited duration. As a result, we are average at most things which we do. But, sadly, over exposure to information about exceptional people and feats has created the perception that being average is equivalent to being a failure. The need to become exceptional to get noticed by society creates anxiety and a constant urge to prove yourself. Since people have a huge database of successes to compare to, they end up feeling inadequate and depressed.
The solution is becoming comfortable with mediocrity. Although It might feel discouraging at first but we must realize that we only improve ourselves if we consider our-self mediocre. If a person already considers himself to be exceptional, why would he bother improving himself? Thus feeling average pushes us to become better.
Most of our life consists of mundane events. This stuff is not amazing, it is ordinary: going for a walk, talking to friends about stupid things, and waiting for your turn at the shopping mall. But as kids, we did not care if the thing went on our CV or not, neither did we care about pleasing everyone. Somewhere along the way, we gave up things. We started listening to our-self less and more to others. Maybe that is why we miss our childhood. By being comfortable with not being amazing, we become comfortable with our own existence and end up being satisfied and happy for what we have. This helps us focus on the things we like to do without fear of judgement and once we do what we love, our lives become fun and meaningful.