We’re always telling ourselves we’re better than who we really are.
An inflated sense of ego is a necessity to survive and maintain emotional sanity in this world. This is an atmosphere lush with achievements, accolades, and a race to the top of an imaginary summit. Among the skills we’ll never learn, and the courses we know we’ll never do, our minds make peace of it somewhere in between.
On a daily basis, people come to face with certain challenges and achievements that they could amount to. These are scalable based on your age, community, economic class etc. The curve balls of life are endless and omnipresent at every turn you’d make.
In such a place, our desire to be greater, better, and more recognised than everyone else is constantly stimulated. So much so that the overstimulation of it leads to the shiny thing syndrome.
We’re all carrying a desire to pick up as many things as possible without thinking of a plan to its completion. The new shiny thing takes the place of the old shiny thing. Where does it leave us? In a puddle of unfinished courses, dusty new books on our bookshelves, wasted gym memberships, and unused musical instruments.
Most of us come to face this failure at one point of our lives or another. How do most of us cope from things? By letting things go. We learn to let things go because it is impossible to do everything. It is impossible to fill our lives with a taste of everything. We know this, so we make do with telling ourselves a dangerous line.
I could do this well if I wanted to. I just don’t have the time.
While it holds true most of the times, this consolation of a line puts us on a slippery edge of letting go and undermining expertise. While we say this to ourselves, we’re comforting ourselves more than we need. When we let the practice of letting things go consume us, it can lead to dangerous paths like getting comfortable with mediocrity.
While mediocrity in itself is nothing to be ashamed of, mediocrity across the board never leads to a life of fulfillment. It is only when we start to walk the path of expertise that we learn about the values of grit, determination, and the skill of labouring through in the face of challenges.
To do something is not a big deal, to do something well on the other hand, requires hours of work, experimentation, and chiseling out your own voice in the concrete of nothingness. So, when we start to tell ourselves that we could be good at something without even trying, we’re trying to overcompensate and give way to procrastination.
What helps instead, is changing the narrative. Mindfulness can be especially powerful in helping us achieve more and yet, maintain respect for the things we choose to let go of. It helps to open our minds to tunnel vision and shift all our energies to one thing. With this practice, we’re giving due time and attention to our interests and ensuring that we’re trying things out. This helps us associate action with what we say. This helps us stay rooted in reality and yet, spread our wings over more and more things until we zero in on the thing that sticks.
The things that get stuck inside the etches of your identity and seem to never truly leave you, those things may as well be the things that you love doing. Those things may as well be the things that you do well, even when you don’t have the time, because you make time for them. At the end of the day, leaving behind the things that don’t stick with you do not mean surrendering your desire to be great. They simply mean that you’ve chosen one thing to be the vessel of your greatness, something you’ll keep close to yourself.