I have built the habit of asking others for their opinion. Not because it's a good social habit to get into, being genuinely interested in who other people are, but because I am scared of being wrong.
At many points I have found myself passionately behind a belief that I ended up being wrong about. Not a little wrong, a lot wrong. I'm not going into greater detail about the event because it wasn’t just one event. It’s happened multiple times. It's not the event that's important but the process I went through.
Because I have been wrong so many times I started to assume that I was wrong about everything. That my thoughts don't hold any weight and don't matter. That others have it figured out and the best thing for me to do is follow their example.
That idea of following the example of others is not bad advice. It’s given out by most people, my parents included. The problem I have with it is I have taken it to the extreme. I listen to everyone’s advice and following everyone’s example, dismissing my opinions and experience.
I am a magpie. Every shiny thing takes my attention. Every new bit of advice I was taking to heart and implementing. But, nothing sticks because something new will always come along and distract me from what I’m currently doing.
I haven’t been developing because I wasn’t spending any time finding what works best for me.
Socially getting things wrong is an indicator that I am idiot not that I need to try again. I have counted on everyone else being right. That has made me very impressionable.
As a kid when I got into social situations I learned to quickly adapt so that I could fit in. In learning about human development I realized that this is how human’s learn social skills (I am not unique or special). I became dependent on this skill while growing up in the Air Force. It was very valuable.
I was able to make friends quickly. I learned to relate to others, carry a lot of empathy, and have a vivid imagination. Two reason why I was so attracted to acting.
Having empathy and a vivid imagination helped with fitting, but it also helped propel my brain into irrational thought processes. Like when I’m laying in bed and I can’t remember if I’ve locked the front door, and I know those burglars are in the bushes outside my house waiting for me to fall asleep.
This irrational thought process gave me the distant impression that because others were right and I was wrong that they were obviously better than me. There was no question that I needed to be doing what others were doing. If for nothing else than to catch up.
I know now that was my ego. Because my ego can’t handle that someone is better than me it also has to justifies that one day I can surpass them, and become better than everyone else.
My ego has fed me these weird vengeful thoughts about my future. That one day I would show everyone up by what I accomplished, by who I became, and by who I am.
That the whole time I had value but it was unrecognizable. I was a diamond in the rough.
I did this a lot with the girls that I tried to date who didn’t return my sentiments. I would play it off like I wasn’t affected, the whole time telling myself “Just wait, she’ll see…”
I I had no idea what she’d see. What was it that people were waiting for me to do? What was I waiting for myself to do?
This dragon is a lack of self worth, and is something I still battle with. A who I naturally am is good enough. That I don’t need to be anyone else. Or accomplish anything to provide value. That my strengths and my weaknesses are just what they need to be.
Man, that was an uncomfortable sentence to write.
From a very early age I remember hearing this scripture:
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong.
- Ether 12:27
The scripture makes logical sense. There’s a large part of me that believes this and wants it to be true. That I have the ability to change. But the focus is on my weakness, not my strengths.
One of the biggest benefits of having a theatre degree is going through the collaborative process of producing a show. Working with some very talented people it becomes very clear what people strengths and weaknesses are. It took to the team to leave our egos at home and get to work to produce the best show possible. That meant letting someone else makeup for my weaknesses.
When I say it like that, it makes it sound easy. Collaboration is hard. It’s hard to work with others. Especially when the process uncovers weaknesses I thought were strengths.
I have focused on weakness too much. It’s that focus that on my weaknesses that pushed me to rely on others for my own success and to let my ego determine status.
No more. I will no longer focus on the weaknesses I need to change but on the strengths I already posses.
The next time I ask for your opinion it won’t be because I’m looking to improve myself. It will be because I’m genuinely interested in you.
What has your ego allowed you to falsely believe?