The biggest obstacle to creating the life that you want is self-doubt, much more so than lacking money or poor educational background. One source of self-doubt is the need to be special, which inevitably leads to high expectations, fear of failure and inaction. After a slew of failures, I now realize that accepting that we are ordinary is the way to eliminate self-doubt and create the life that we want.
I’ll tell you my story.
I grew up in a very strict family, where my parents would only accept good grades and outstanding performance and where I was constantly criticized and reprimanded. As a result, I learned that I wasn’t good enough from a very young age.
To cope, I had to work hard to catch up with the expectations and hoped that my parents would love me more if I were more distinguished.
Upon seeing my accomplishments at school, their attitudes switched from shaming me to being proud of me. They began to think that I’m special and better than other kids.
That thinking didn’t fail to influence me. I also started to consider myself different and that I’m doomed to success.
Self-doubt and narcissism are really just two sides of the same coin.
Before long, I began to set high expectations for myself, just like my parents did, and became ever more fearful of failing than before. I rarely felt safe enough to take actions.
In this limbo, stress and anxiety creped in.
I lost interest in everything I do. Every step seemed like a burden to me. What’s worse, the more I wanted something, the farther away it strayed away from me, whether it was school, work, or relationships.
In the end, I manifested the exact outcome that I dreaded: failure and the inability to make anything happen.
I attributed it to my belief that “I am special.”
The perils of needing to be special
We were born knowing our worth and that we are loved and valued. However, as we grew up, our parents began to impose their opinions on us and measure us against their standards.
For some parents (who usually have self-worth issues themselves), they can only love their kids if the kids stand out from the crowd.
Desperate for our parents’ love, we started to think like them and believe that we only have worth when we are special.
When you’re driven not by your interest, excitement or love but the need to be different, your life becomes burdensome and void of fun. Not only will you abandon your heart desires and have to labor yourself to get noticed, but you might also get increasingly frustrated as it takes a tremendous effort to get the spotlight you want today.
Every time you fail, your self-esteem takes a hit, and it becomes more difficult to bounce back.
The truth is, the more you want to be special, the less likely you will be.
And you feel worse about yourself.
You can be ordinary and live the life you want
Being average doesn’t equal to worthlessness. Our society has sung too much high praise to those with great achievements, not knowing that an ordinary person, by following his joy and embracing his authentic self, has already done his best to honor himself, others, and the society.
4 steps to embracing being average again
Step#1. Be willing to feel the shame
Your aversion to being ordinary comes from being shamed for not standing out when you were young. If you want to embrace being average again, you have to own the shame.
And the best way to do so is to feel it.
You might want to dodge the feeling in the beginning, since shame is the most soul-sucking emotion among all. Resist the temptation. Embracing the shame is the critical first step to shattering your ego and acknowledging that you are no more special than everyone else.
Stay present with the feeling until you no longer feel it. It will come back periodically—lovingly embrace it.
Step#2. Cultivate your sense of worth
Your worth is inherent with you and can’t be diminished by anything you do or don’t do. You are ordinary, but you deserve to be happy, loved, abundant and to live the life you want.
Love and accept the real you. You don’t need to labor yourself to be special—you are already by just being you.
Step#3. Follow your heart
Following your heart doesn’t just grant you a happy life—it spares you the burden of needing to be special. Your heart doesn’t care whether you stand out from the crowd. It cares whether you love what you do.
Listen to your intuition and follow your heart when you make decisions. Your choice might seem ordinary, but it is still of great value to you. Passion, hard work, and commitment to the things you do will lead you to your goals and the life you want.
Step#4. Cultivate the growth mindset
There are two types of attitudes when it comes to achieving goals: the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. People with the fixed mindset attribute success to gifts and talents, while people believing in the growth mindset emphasize on hard work and dedication to culminate.
Believing that you are special might lure you into the first category, which is why you find it hard to succeed. Instead of cultivating your skills, you spend time documenting your talents and declaring how special you are.
You don’t have to be special to succeed. In fact, none of those genuinely successful consider themselves special, while all of them rely on hard work, grit, and self-discipline to success. You will also take this path to get closer and closer to your dream.
Admitting that you are not special free you from excessive burdens and let you truly enjoy life. Practice on and before long, you will find yourself too occupied in fulfilling your joy to notice whether you are special or not.
Do you agree that you don’t have to be special to live the life that you want? Please share your comment below!