Most people are loved and happy yet most of them are pretty average – happiness and great achievement have no necessary connection. – Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns
While I was battling whatever is wrong with my knees, I took a course in Cognitive Therapy because a spot came available and why wouldn’t I add that in to my endless round of doctor visits and blood tests? And actually, it was really, really wonderful. I had a notebook and there was homework (that I will do for the rest of my life!) and my hippo and I happily geeked out on the whole thing. Well, actually, the hippo put her feet up and drank lemonade while I did all the work, which was exactly the way I wanted it to be. She’s gone on holiday now and I’ve only had the occasional postcard.
There are all sorts of things we are taught or just pick up all on our own as we travel through life that are not true and are harmful to us. And one of the ideas I had been carrying was that I was Supposed to Do Great Things. That the abilities I have been blessed with do not, in fact belong to me, are not for my enjoyment but are to be shared with the world in whatever way the world demands them.
It’s been a huge burden, no matter how much I’ve fought against it. And I have fought, because there has always been a little tiny voice inside my head telling me that the people pressuring me to do more, try more, sharemorebemoremoreMORE!!! are, in fact, wrong.
So when, in the course of my therapy, I came across the quote at the start of this post, I was really quite excited. Because, dude! A trained professional has backed up my instinctive response! How cool is that? So now when I tell people that, no I don’t have to share it all with the world, it’s not just me being surly, it’s Science!
I know I’m not the only one who has fallen in to this trap. It seems like everyone I know has the same pressure to change the world, be the change, be a game-changer, etc., etc., etc. Blah, blah, blah. You can’t just draw or write or run for fun. You have to exhibit and publish and raise huge amounts of cash for the cure. The world needs saving and it’s up to each and every one of us to save it all the time with everything we do.
We’re told that the Universe needs our special gifts, has been waiting for all eternity for us to be born and do that thing that we do and if we don’t do it, we’re not only denying ourselves something that could be kind of wonderful, we’re failing the ENTIRE UNIVERSE and I’m sorry, but if the Universe is smart enough to know we’re coming and that we can do that thing we do (and can create wonders like sunsets and baby bunnies while it’s tapping its fingers waiting for us) it can just go ahead and do whatever it takes to unstick things. I mean, does it really make sense that out of all eternity, one person not sharing their mad interpretive sumo wrestling skills on the world stage is going to gum up the entire works? I don’t think so.
It’s taken a long time and many years of feeling guilty for shirking my duties, for illuminating the underside of that bushel basket, for not stepping into my role as Princess Sparkles: Happy-Maker of the World, but I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I am, in fact, quite ordinary. Stellar to Alan and Ruffles and the handful of people who adore me, but, actually, average. One among many.
The freedom is breathtaking.
And I know some of you will say I’m not (thank you, you’re lovely) but here’s the thing. Every single one of us ordinary folk has a whole lot of amazing wonderfulness inside. And we’re worth getting to know, in an unpressured, how cool are you, the world will be fine for a little while longer, please show me your tap-dancing skills one more time, kind of way.
Blogging is a strange platform on which to pronounce my ordinariness. Here I am, on a worldwide platform, sharing my thoughts with you. But when you take a look around, you realize that there are so many other blogs out there that this begins to look more like an intimate gathering of friends. I’m sending you letters every week. And I’m doing it because I want to, because it lights up my soul to put the thoughts that ramble through my head all the time into something cohesive. I love that my words can resonate with others. I love when you share this blog with your friends. And I would really love to turn these words into a book deal and reach a wider audience. But, and I hope I don’t hurt your feelings with this confession, I’m not actually doing it for you. I’m doing it for me, because my life is a little less fun, a little less sparkly when I’m not posting.
What lights you up? Do you have something? Do you know what it is? Do you make time for it in your day? Your week? Your life?
It doesn’t have to be something that we usually label creative. It can be athletic. It can be quiet. It can be completely goofy and weird. But it should light up your soul and you should do it without apologies to anyone.
Yes, helping others is good. And the right amount of that by the right number of people (a little bit by everybody, say) will make things a whole lot better. But let’s take the pressure off. Let’s embrace the ordinary.
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