You cannot be anything that you want to be.
Say it with me,
“I cannot be anything that I want to be.”
See, you’re feeling better already aren’t you?
We need to stop telling ourselves that anything is possible, and we need to stop telling our children that they can be anything that they want to be. They can’t.
Your child is probably not going to be an astronaut, or a famous dancer, or a famous footballer, or a brain surgeon. They will probably not win a Nobel Prize, nor scale Everest. They will probably not discover the 4th dimension, or cure cancer.
Now of course someone’s child will, but that will not be because they were told they could do anything they wanted to do, but through luck, knowing the right people, being in the right place at the right time, having the right privilege, and putting in some hard work (not always).
What I am trying to say, is that we are giving ourselves and our children unrealistic expectations of what is possible, and creating a culture of anxiety all around us as they reality of our inability to be anything that we want to be kicks in. We wake up one day and realise that we’ve been lied to and lied to ourselves,
“God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables, slaves with white collars, advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of the history man, no purpose or place, we have no Great war, no Great depression, our great war is a spiritual war, our great depression is our lives, we’ve been all raised by television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars, but we won’t and we’re slowly learning that fact. and we’re very very pissed off.”
― Chuck Palahniuk,
It is no wonder that for many there is a sense of abyss as all that we were told we were going to be and achieve fades with each day, and is as unrealistic with each sunrise as it was the sunrise before.
Yet the dawning of reality brings hope and liberation.
Once we speak authentically about our lives and the lives of our children, we can embrace the liberty of who we ACTUALLY ARE. We can pursue the authenticity of our own gifts and passion, or to begin with seek to find out what they are, and then aim to be the best version of who we are, rather than trying to become something that we will never be.
Is this not where so much pain stems from today, as we are bombarded with images and ideology of the person we will never be but were always told we could be? How much healing might we receive once we claim the truth of our actuality, of the person we really are, and cast off the chains of the ghost of perfection, the life that we are promised we can have, that lay just round the corner, if only we worked harder, trained more, prayed more, had more faith, sacrificed more. . .
You are who you are, so pursue the best possible YOU that you can.
And whatever you can do, do it as well as you can. This will bring an enormous sense of relief, satisfaction, and authenticity to your life.
A point of clarity here when I say this. My wife suffers from depression and anxiety, and some days are so tough for her. There is no way that I would ever want to place any pressure on my wife knowing full well that each day can be different, each moment sometimes a huge challenge. To be the best you is to care well for yourself, to be self-aware and to be kind to yourself. Sometimes simply being able to get up and make a cup of tea is the best you can be on that day. I know that my wife can, sometimes, with support and gentle encouragement, do more in a day and in a moment that she dreamed possible; that’s the best she can be on that day. Sometimes it is all too much, and so the best you is to sleep. To embrace the now is to recognise that which you are able to do in any given moment, and that is a powerful thing. I also believe that there is hope, that “this too shall pass” and days can be filled with joy.
I believe there are three ways that we can pursue the best version of ourselves:
- Pursue Compassion. Seek to live with as a person of generosity, forgiveness, and love. Seek to speak and act to those who you find in your lives, whether they are in your life for a moment or for a lifetime, seek to be compassionate always. It will take a life time of practice.
- Speak Authentically. Name reality for what it really is. We all have a tendency to lie, or at the very least, to manipulate the truth for our own gain, or to minimise our failures. To speak authentically is to tell things as they really are. When you start doing that life will open up in ways you never imagined. It won’t be easy, and you will probably lose friends and jobs, but it will create the space for the most honest version of you.
- Live Relationally. We individually do not have enough time on this planet to not live in-depth of relationship. We are created for relationship, and our whole lives are enriched in every way when we are surrounded by unconditional, loving, authentic relationships. Create the space to bring people together, and value the moments of face to face, of laughter, food together, wine drunk, tears shared. Encourage people to come over, and do whatever you can to resist the onslaught of social media communication as the main way of ‘being together’.