Take a moment and close your eyes. Imagine you are on a stage and before you is an audience. They are here for you. They are waiting for your performance. You have longed for this moment but before you can go on, you have to wait. Someone else is performing ahead of you. At the moment you’re only doing the intro. You know, however, your time is soon.
Now imagine the person ahead of you, their performance is flawless. The crowd adores them. They are cheering their name. Your thoughts drift, they tell you that the audience wasn’t waiting for you, but for those ahead of you.
Suddenly you feel so small. You turn to the stagehand, watching them perform from behind the scenes. Then, another feeling steps in and your thoughts tell you, “You belong with them in the shadows. This was never your stage, this was never your time. You won’t find what you were looking for here.”
And as if in like some twisted dream, you find yourself dressed just like the rest. You are the stagehand orchestrating events for another. The thing you longed for has suddenly become an ever distant memory and seemingly impossible.
It’s so easy to make comparisons, to believe that where we are is the only place we can ever be. I was reading a post by someone I know, and I began to realize I had allowed my own self-doubt to slip in this week. I know you should never compare yourself to someone else, but it’s so easy to do. It’s one of the many things I have to constantly remind myself not to do.
Over the last few days, I’ve been struggling with the idea that I’m not good enough. I mean here I am, a guy who is working hard to find someone to find representation and get his work published. Then I look at others who are already out there, with books to show off and promotions to offer. It gets hard.
You feel so small like you’re a stagehand rather than the guy on stage. I know for a lot of people, having a book out there is like shouting to the world that you are here and validated. Even if it doesn’t do great, it’s still an achievement.
Maybe the issue comes down to acceptance or the fear of being rejected and not taken seriously. I know growing up I always felt an annoyance or inconvenience to others. I didn’t look at the world the way most people did. I imagined fantastic things, dreamed up stories or just simply saw things differently from others.
I didn’t get people and they didn’t get me. I guess as I’ve gotten older some of those feelings of annoyance or simply being tolerated still lingers when I’m in a group. It’s probably why I fight so hard to be seen as an equal in the eyes of people I respect.
I know I’ve done it in abusive relationships. What I mean is, friendships I’ve had that were far from healthy. I put with a lot, just to find acceptance from someone I felt worth my respect. In the end, it wasn’t worth it.
I sometimes wonder how many of us do it and don’t realize it. The need for acceptance is so strong nowadays, especially with social media and the instant gratification it has to offer. I mean who doesn’t want to be loved or seen a relevant?
It’s why I have to remind myself every day about what’s true is when things start getting to me. As writers or just as people, we all on a different journey. It’s so important to keep telling ourselves that the stage we’re on is our stage. It’s the one that life gave us. We aren’t stagehands, we’re the stars of our stories and we need to live like we believe it.
Sure, some people are further up the ladder, but that’s okay. They are pursuing their purpose. They are following their path. No journey is the same and each brings its own trials. We can’t spend the energy comparing ourselves to others because they aren’t us and we aren’t them. We can’t afford to be bitter or jealous over what they have, there just isn’t time for it.
Eric Thomas puts it another way. I’m paraphrasing, but the core of the message is this: We can’t spend our lives starting at others, being envious of what they have. Rather if we grind toward the goal and keep our heads down, then we never have to worry about what others are doing.
When we finally get to the point when we can pick our heads up. We might discover that after working so hard to get to where we want to be, we have surpassed and exceeded all expectations. Don’t waste energy staring at others. It’s easier said than done. The longer we stare at them, the less productive we are in own lives.
So, I encourage you to take center stage, this is your show. This your life, only you can perform on the stage it’s given you. It’s never too late and Mom is a perfect example.
She got her Master’s Degree at 58. Before that, she got her Bachelors at 55. She decided she wanted to help people. That she wanted to do something fulfilling by becoming a counselor and life coach. I couldn't be prouder and it's something to think about.
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Have a great week everyone!