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To be content in your skin

I am jealous. Of people who write so well. Of people who converse so well. Of people who make friends so easily. Of people who look so confident and sure of themselves wherever they are. Of people who can make small talk and not make it sound awkward or deliberate but as though they would love to know you. There are clearly two categories here: One, that strives to get noticed and the other that effortlessly gets noticed. (Of course, there are arguments about the second category that the strife wasn't for all to see.)  Both categories are talented and am not saying it is sheer luck that worked in favour of the latter.

Some people just have it in them. It's one thing to be good at something but another to command fan following and respect for that talent. It is never easy to win respect or awe from others, especially from your contemporaries, and once you do, you know you are there. Call it charisma, style, the X-factor- there is definitely the extra edge-whatever it is-that clearly makes the popular stand out in a crowd of equally good and sometimes better people.

It makes emulation for others even more tough. Not because the opportunity gets any lesser. But because, the bar is already raised so high that it becomes difficult to handle your own expectations. It is alright to say that whatever you do, if you do it from the heart, the rest will follow. That does not make decisions easier. Or for that matter the journey. Of course, it depends on where you want to reach and how you consider your journey to be. For some, it doesn't matter where they are heading, they just enjoy the journey and it shows in their work. However it is difficult for many, for instance like me, who judge my own actions by the response I get from people and doubt myself each time I meet with a unsatisfactory results. I get bogged down easily. I am not one of the self-motivated types. I am like a leech on to a plant of approval and thrive only on being assured and reassured of myself.

When you look up to someone from your own field, you admire his work and aspire to get there someday. Somewhere along you get inspired and chug on a path that gives you happiness. Then, along the journey, you meet like-minded folks who like you are pursuing their goals drawing inspiration from similar successful people. Experiences are shared and tribulations poured out. You connect at one level but compete at a different level. Conscious or sub-conscious comparisons are made and you set out to level or exceed scores. You determine yardsticks for your success. Every step you forge ahead becomes a greater reason to compete and race faster. And then, the beauty of it all is lost. Simply because the passion is replaced by a rage. The happiness once derived by simply doing a stuff is replaced by a sense of restlessness and dissatisfaction not because you are doing well but you are not doing well enough when pitted against your so-called peers.

Why is it so difficult to just be yourself? why cannot there be peace in knowing and accepting that you may be good but there will be several others who are better than you? Is this some deep-rooted insecurity that makes you want to feel included, to make your own place and still be a part of the world?

Comments

  1. loved loved loved what you wrote and how you wrote.... 'I get bogged down easily. I am not one of the self-motivated types.' - this describes me to the T!!!! I am definitely not self motivated

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    1. you too, RM???..:-(
      funny part is people close to you keep saying, "you're good" but I feel they are being good in saying that!!!
      thank you, RM for "loving" this post! you now know that it does mean a lot to me.

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  2. I think it is partly because of the conditioning. Right from comparing to infants' growth milestones to marks to salary to husbands to wealth, we are conditioned to compare and compete.

    Also, on the positive side, sometimes I guess we MIGHT perform better by competing; our potential might well become known to us only on seeing others. May be. No?

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    1. yes, if the comparison makes us do better, it is good. However, my point is- it is difficult(at least for some) to arrive at a stage where you know there WILL be people better than you and still be unaffected. Then, the journey (to improve, maybe) will become enjoyable.

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  3. Ditto! I wish I knew the answers to your last paragraph. I am the under confident types... I crave for assurance and a nod from whoever every time I do something new... and I am easily demotivated too. It is, however nice to know that I am not alone in this world who lacks faith in myself. Here, I do not mean complete hopelessness, but the feeling that I may not be what I really want to be!

    Thanks for the post! I don't feel singled out!

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    1. aah! there goes my twin soul, again..:-)
      lets be there together in motivating one another and reminding ourselves that we are not alone. And, of course, we are good enough..:-)

      Happy to see you around..looks like Aarnavi gives you some "me time"..:-)

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  4. A beautiful post...one everybody who reads will identify with.
    I dealt with so many issues for years and finally...finally have realised it's all in my mind.....and how did I realise???
    Thru my youngest daughter...she exhibits all the symtoms I did & I have a hard time convincing her its all in her mind. And ofcourse she's not convinced[just like how I was] so I let it be...sometimes nobody can convince of something we dont want to believe, the confidence...the awareness has to come from within.

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    1. Thank you Nancy!
      "sometimes nobody can convince of something we dont want to believe, the confidence...the awareness has to come from within"

      so true so true...I pray in earnest for Naina to realise her worth very very soon. Meanwhile you can tell her how we all appreciate her???

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  5. I am also not the self-motivated type but I feel blessed are those people who are self-motivated. When people get the idea that you are not the self-motivated confident person, they have a tendency to pull you down even more. I am speaking from my experience. Also, just put on a false facade of confidence even if you are not because, it will prevent others from unnecessarily taking advantage of you. I feel this is absolutely necessary to survive in today's world.

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    1. what you say is true, Tan!
      the facade is all right but the demons to be fought are always deep down in your conscience and thoughts. There the facade never works..:-)

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    2. What I am trying to say is that only we need to see and fight those demons. Let us not show the demons to others, especially those people who we feel are not our well-wishers :-)

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    3. What I am trying to say is that only we need to see and fight those demons. Let us not show the demons to others, especially those people who we feel are not our well-wishers :-)

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    4. yes, I got your point Tan. What I am trying to say is why do we need to fight such demons even if it is only within and not shown outside? why is it difficult to remain self-motivated and remain unaffected by the race around us?

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    5. Fighting such demons depend on our mindset. If we are content with the way we are, I feel absolutely no reason to fight them. But then, trying to fight them helps us to grow as a person both professionally and personally and in the end, helps us feel good and satisfied :)

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    6. exactly, if we are content with the way we are!

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  6. Lovely post!Beautifully articulated..Maybe deep down everyone feels this way.. some of us choose to show it, some don't.I toggle between being a self-motivated person and a not being one.I am over critical of myself to ever get to a place where i can be comfortable in my own skin. And yeah, I am super jealous of someone who can effortlessly accept oneself for what he/she is..

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    1. Thanks, Bhargavi!

      "I am over critical of myself to ever get to a place where i can be comfortable in my own skin"

      this holds true for me too..:-(

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  7. Count me in...I think we all pass through this phase both in personal life as well as on professional front. Couldn't agree more on all you said Uma...very well written, heart-felt post :)

    Loved it!!

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    1. Thank you ME!
      Guess, most of us feel like that in varying degrees..
      In a way, that makes me feel quite normal ;-)

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  8. At one level, it is good to be not satisfied. At another, one has to be at peace as well. I have days when I super confident, rest of the days, I sulk big time looking at how passionate Amitabh Ji must have been in his struggling days that I am not :|...

    So, it's only human to feel the way you may have or do <3
    Hugs....

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    1. aah! Amitabh! he's truly an inspiration..:-)
      Thanks, Chintan for the supportive words :-)
      hugs..

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  9. Wow Uma.. this was totally introspective and I think soooo relatable to many of us :).
    On a lighter note, let me say I was thinking something vaguely along these lines when I saw a mom who looked so polished and well turned out (not overdressed but casual and sleek) to pick up her kid from the same Karate class that D goes to. And here I was thinking "Oh God, did I even comb my hair?!". One more thing to aspire to and never quite reach :(.

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    1. yeah, going by all the comments I recieved, its seems like each of us have to deal with these demons every now and then..:-)
      haha @ the super mom..guess we all underestimate ourselves in some way or the other

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  10. This reminded me of a play- The Hairy Ape- that I read looooong back, where the protag (Yank?) struggles to 'belong' somewhere.. And for some reason, I have thought that I go through the same emotions/motions, but pbly on a different plane.. I think all of us have a personality inside us like the one you have mentioned.. I must admit that I don't give it any thought now.. I don't know where I fit, but I think I shouldn't be worrying or thinking abt it.. Is being content good? I don't know? Is being discontent good? I don't know that I either.. I'm just taking things as they come.. Is that right? No clue..

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    1. Then you have achieved the stage where "belonging" or "not belonging" doesn't really affect you, which is great!
      discontent as long as it motivates one towards higher goals and doesn't become so great that you forget to live life is alright, me thinks.
      there's no right or wrong attitude as long as you are at peace and happy :-) what say???

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  11. There is a thin line of difference between being jealous and being envious. I identify with the post if the word jealous is replaced with envious. Whenever i see people who are better than me(in some way or another), i wish i could be like them. Sometimes i succeed in my efforts, and sometimes i fail..

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    1. you are right Radhika, about envy and jealousy. I meant envy here..:-)

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  12. Uma, your post echoes, word for word, what I feel time and again and am sure it will make you feel great when I say that I could never have articulated it so well. I think it's only natural to compare oneself to others to gauge one's own progress, or perceived abilities but yes when one becomes over-obsessed with other people's achievements and underplays one's own there begins the problem. You have to find your balance between the two. There is always a power struggle b/w the inner circle and outer circle and I personally prefer to be laid back than try to be noticed/liked/belong and trade bits of myself in the process.

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    1. exactly! finding the balance is the key. You said it!
      yeah, we need to understand and appreciate our own abilities first. Maybe finding the balance then may not be such a trouble.
      Thanks, Chatty! :-D

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