I am reading all these brilliant articles, and I am in awe. I’m completely amazed and overwhelmed by the talent and thoughts of people. I scroll with disbelief, click with astonishment, clap and highlight with ultimate admiration.
Sometimes it’s the words that blow me away, the carefully orchestrated sentences, the perfectly crafted structures, the rhythm, the sound I hear while reading. Sometimes it’s the emotions that wash over me and consume me whole, making me question my whole existence, rethink my life, reconsider my hopes and fears. Sometimes it’s not the words, but the thoughts — the unique wit and eternal wisdom that shines through the simplest words, leaving me breathless, staring amazed, how could he think this up?
And I feel so small.
Past the admiration and the awe, there is a feeling of fear and worthlessness budding inside me. I am reading and I feel like Alice, growing smaller by the paragraph, under the pressure of my own idealistic expectations.
And I hate feeling small, I hate having my inspiration turning into negative self-talk, I hate that virtual words on a screen can lift me up just as much as they can drag me down. I am fine with them lifting me up, but please, can we just not go there when I feel bad about not being where they make me want to be?
Okay, so how not to feel small? How not to feel useless, meaningless and worthless and just less in general, when there is a whole universe of talented and gifted people, who started earlier, doing it better and you have every right to be jealous of them?
Remind yourself of your goal
We are different and we have different goals. Let’s take the writing, while we are at it! Some of us do it for money, some of us do it for fame, for feedback, for self-expression. Some of us use it as a therapeutic outlet, some as a way of contributing to a bigger cause.
Each goal is perfect and invaluable. Your goal is just as good as mine! My goal is just as good as yours. You started it for a reason that you don’t need to explain to anyone. If you want to make money and you are willing to sacrifice quality for quantity, it’s just as fine as it is perfectly okay to do it to help others regardless of the income you can get from it.
It’s all perfect.
And just so you know it, not all goals are easy to admit in public, so in lots of the cases, you won’t even have an idea of the real underlying motive of someone else. And you don’t need to. Your only concern should be your goal and the ways how you can stick to them.
Remind yourself of your journey
There is some beauty in us human beings living together. We are coexisting in a shared space and time, yet we are so different. Even when our circumstances are similar, our reactions to them make us unique and our individual perception sets us and our journey apart from everyone else.
When you feel small, you need to remind yourself that your journey is the only one that you can ever see in its totality, and even that you will see it clearly in hindsight only. You have no idea about the real journey people are experiencing; when seeing someone’s success all you can see is just the tip of the iceberg. Even if they are giving you a detailed description of their progress you won’t have their struggles, their feelings, their failures.
Your journey is yours and it’s more important than the destination, even though the lure of the destination is usually why we set on our journey in the first place. But while heading towards the desired future, you mustn’t forget to enjoy the ride, the sights, the learning and the growth that it brings — even if they sometimes take the form of failure and hurt.
Remind yourself that success stories are built on failure
When you read success stories from others, telling you about how they overcame difficulties, how they stood up after falling 50 times, how they conquered their demons, addictions, negativity — it is written from a perspective of success. It is showing you the result, and the progress is visible in hindsight. It should be encouraging to see that it is possible. But never forget that they are past the failure, past the demons, past the heartbreak. Writing about failure actually happening is a lot less lucrative — who will want to read you if all you can write about for 3 months that you are down and depressed and not getting out of bed. People read success stories. Success stories come from overcoming fear, failure and adversity.
Remind yourself about the progress you made
Comparison is the death of joy, for sure. This is very true, but it’s also true that we are wired to measure ourselves to others. We are competitive little creatures, seeking attention, looking for acknowledgement. Accept this and you are already better off. If you are fine with being competitive, the only thing you can do about comparison is using your past self as a reference point. In other words, don’t compare yourself to anyone else but to your own past self. Don’t measure yourself to anyone else but to your desired future self, the one you are striving to become. Don’t look at others, scolding yourself where you should be already. Look at others for inspiration only, so that they can propel you forward.
And if you want to feel better, think about all the others who could do what you do and they don’t. Think about yourself that you could choose not to show up. Celebrate yourself, pat yourself on the back. Write down every compliment you get, make a “Good Shit Board” to remind you of all the things that you have accomplished — seen through the lens of others.
Remind yourself that being envious is okay
We are human and we are competitive. It requires a really mature person not to ever feel jealousy and envy. If you are this good, congratulations, I admire you, sincerely. I am not this advanced yet, I am working on it, but at the moment I do feel bad about myself when I see others’ success. It’s not that I want them to fail, it’s that I want to be there too. I want their talent, their gift, their persistence, I want their opportunities. And it makes me feel bad, on top of already feeling small.
If you are anything like me, you need to remind yourself that it is a natural feeling. You shouldn’t embrace it, but you can reframe it, and use it to your own benefit. How can it be beneficial?
Ask yourself these: What exactly am I envious of when it comes to [insert name]? If I had a magic wand and I could have one thing only what they have, what would that be? What could I do to get that trait without magic? How could I work towards it? Is it really that important for me so that I am willing to put in the work for it?
Turn your envy into goals and planning.
Remind yourself that you are enough
Wanting to get better every day is a great thing, it’s a beautiful goal and the kind of commitment we all need to make this world a little better. Becoming the best version of yourself, achieving your goals and pushing your limits starts with small steps, continues with commitment and showing up each and every day. Remind yourself that sometimes just showing up is enough, making one tiny step is enough, helping one single person is enough. You don’t need to be perfect; you need to settle for being good enough. Because you are good enough. We are not fixed creatures, we are changing, growing, evolving every day. We are expanding with every step we take. What cannot be yet done today will be done tomorrow or the day after. Today, do as well as you can, this is your level of enough. And tomorrow, when you know a tiny bit more and you are a little bit better, then you will become another level of enough.
And no matter if you feel small, just show up every day and do you.