I got good grades in school.
Not because I cared about the subject matter, or even because I wanted to be at the top of my class. I got good grades in school because teachers expected me to, and I didn’t want to let them down.
For most of my life, I was so concerned with letting people down. I was the person who overpromised. I was the person who was always assumed to succeed. I was the person who couldn’t fail. Because I was terrified of letting anyone down.
On this blog, we talk a lot about how sharing yourself with others is the fastest way to build self-esteem. How being of service to the world shows you what you’re worth.
And, for a long time, I was convinced that being of service meant that I should use my skills to benefit others.
There goes that word should again.
See, sharing yourself with others means sharing your whole self. Your real self. It means digging down deep to find all of your strengths and weaknesses and passions. It means deciding exactly what’s important to you and how you want to play it out.
You’re in control. You’re making the rules.
It’s not for others. It’s for yourself, shared with others.
You don’t owe anything to anybody. You don’t have to prove anything.
Take it from the guy who took the long route to the lesson—being yourself is never letting anybody down. In fact, it’s all people want from you in the first place.
Nobody wants a teammate who hates the game. Nobody wants a coworker who can’t stand the job.
We think we’re good at hiding our emotions, but we’re not. We give off that vibe. We send a clear message of our feelings. So we might as well be honest and own up to it.
If you’re doing things for other people and not for yourself, quit while you’re behind. Relationships turn resentful, jobs get stifling, friends become a burden.
We’re all funny, you know that? We love to play the victim. We love to pretend that life just happens to us. That it’s inevitable. And we come up with pretty good logic to make it appear that way too.
But then you see people doing radical, crazy things and think, “Oh, I could never do that. I couldn’t just quit my job or leave my relationship or fly around the world for a year.”
You only couldn’t if you decide you couldn’t.
We’re the ones making the rules for our lives. We’re the ones carrying around the old baggage and limiting beliefs.
I have to laugh at myself. Because, as far as I’ve come with telling people to go screw it and doing my own thing, I still catch myself caught in the letting-people-down trap. I still feel the hurt when someone posts a nasty comment on one of my articles. I still have to remind myself whom I’m doing this for.
I’ve said it a thousand times, but one more never hurts: I’M NOT PERFECT. Not now. Never was. Never will be.
We’re all going to have these issues to work on. We’re all always going to be working on them.
Remember, on this blog, we don’t measure magnitude; we measure direction. As long as you’re headed for your dreams, you’re doing okay.
So challenge time: Look at one area of your life where you’ve got let-down-phobia. One area where you’re terrified of disappointing people. One area where maybe you push yourself too hard because everyone expects you to succeed.
And take a moment to really evaluate why you’re doing this. If it’s for yourself, then screw what others think. You’re doing this for you. If it’s just for other people, let it go. Walk away. Decide to do what you really want to do.
Life’s short. And it only gets shorter. So there’s no point in living a life for other people. They’ve already got their own.
It’s your turn.
The best thing you can do for the world is start to live your dream life.
And, remember, on this blog, we only measure direction. We only measure steps.
So what steps toward happiness are you going to take this week?