Back years ago I was small, quiet, mediocre. The only thing you could have said about me was I wanted to live up to my potential.
Taken from my own life one of the biggest obstacles I faced is the idea that I couldn’t be, nor did I deserve to be more than what I am.
I couldn’t see a better future for self in any way I found convincing.
I didn’t think I had potential. There was no brighter vision of the future.
Maybe I lacked imagination. But what mattered to me was that I wasn’t happy.
That’s the limiting belief I had and still have to some extent even today. That’s the success I wanted but can only ever dream about.
With that belief, whatever vision of a better future becomes just a fantasy you escape into, and I was a big daydreamer.
This is why most of all we should act even if we don’t have a clear vision.
Low self-esteem means such dreams appear ridiculous, and in my case they were.
It’s also a cultural artefact. We are told that we need to have a goal a vision to work towards. It’s the stuff of dubious self help and management advice. Sure there’s some evidence that having goals helps productivity, but it’s more complex than this and can be counter-productive.
Instead shorten your horizons and instead act, create, build because you have something to say. Forget about what others would say.
Instead, satisfy your own curiosity. Create for yourself. It’s wondering what this idea would look like in reality.
A lack of self-worth takes time to change. I’m still struggling, still trying to take my voice, my writing and art seriously. Away from a lack of self-belief, which tells me none of it matters.
It can stop me from doing the work, sharing my ideas. Sucking the passion and motivation out of me.
Low self-worth is like that, an emptiness, a void inside. That swallows up the desire and drive to find what we’re looking for. To be free, successful, happy however you describe it.
It’s the war inside. The two voices that pull in different directions. One noble, one depraved. One healthy and one sick.
It comes down to which give you listen to the most.
Instead of trying to silence the defeatist choice. Ignore it and act. Let go of the notion that you have to be the right person, with the right vision before you can take action.
That’s like saying you must be fit so you can go to the gym.
Many success stories were never about success. Just someone trying something out an idea. Curiosity guided them. Artists are a good example.
One of my favourite examples is the French Impressionists. They didn’t have a clear vision of what they were trying to achieve, but they were clear on what they are rebelling against. That artistic vision became clearer as they created their art.
I don’t know what will make me happy. I don’t know what success looks like for me.
I might be a a writer, an artist, or perhaps something else. I don’t know, doubt and uncertainty are always there.
Such doubt will not stop me, and it should you either.
What I’m saying is that is we think of happiness a success like an archer. The archer clearly sees the target to hit, and he aims and hits the target. Clean, simple, direct.
That’s not how it works. Instead, you’re looking for the target at the same time your learning how to hit it.
You don’t know what you’re looking for, and you don’t know how to get there. You’re someone with a torch stumbling around in the darkness searching for something, but you’re not sure what it is.
The key take away is you create a better dream as you make progress. Your goals and aims change. Aspiratons narrow, goals become more reachable, clearer. The doubt and mist subsides.
But in the beginning, as I feel I still am. Such clarity, such certainty remains frustratingly out of reach. Become what in French is called a Flaneur. A Stroller, wanderer. Sample the world without aims or goals, except the desire to experience it. A connoisseur or observer of life, in the early stages. Whatever happens … happens. Take it all in your stride and don’t worry so much about where you’re going.
(This idea is also what inspired the Impressionists to paint real life, reality as it happens.)
Try lots of new things. Learn new skills. Speak out and share your ideas and problems.
Over time you will find your voice, your goal and the path. But only as long as you act.