“If we are always striving to be something more and something different, we dillute the power of what it is we actually are.” Julia cameron
Is it really so hard to just be who we are without constantly striving to be more, better, stronger, smarter? What’s wrong with how we are now, at this very moment? There’s something to be said about “being comfortable in your own skin”—beyond the reason of making a fool out of yourself in a social setting. Being comfortable in your own skin is divine, potent, powerful. For creative people, their kernel of uniqueness is their greatest advantage.
We don’t read writers or listen to artists who are trying to be like another writer or artist. We enjoy art because it takes us to a place we’ve never been before—behind another person’s distinct perspective. It allows us to enjoy that particular artist’s unique set of skills.
Why, then, do we fuss about trying to be better than, or different from, who we are, when “who we are” is what makes us so powerful, desirable? As artists, why are we trying to build upon ourselves, when our “selves” is what makes us artists? As a writer, why am I always trying to force myself to write this way or that, to be more like this person or that, when who I already am—and what I’m already good at—is good enough?
Just as the protagonist does in Paulo Cohelo’s novel the Alchemist, it’s like we’re leaving home to search for our treasure, when our treasure/ power/ salvation is already within, at home base.
Forget the idea of always trying to learn a skill or adopt a style that doesn’t feel natural to us. Let’s figure out what comes easy to us, and do that. That’s where the gold lies.
Forget self-improvement books. I’ve been there—there’s no salvation in them. Salvation will come when we develop the courage to trash the books/ blogs/ articles/ audiotapes and learn to value, accept, and be comfortable with who we already are. Now, that doesn’t mean we aren’t striving and self-actualizing, it just means we’re striving towards “authentic goals,” instead of goals that merely inflate our bank accounts and boost our self-image.
Here’s my point: When we indulge in excessive “self-improvement,” we stretch further and further away from our centre, from what we’re intuitively good at. We’re telling ourselves that we’re not good enough as is. We are. We’re indicating to our unconscious that we don’t believe we have the internal resources to get what we want in life. We do.
Everything we’ll ever need is already within us. That is, of course, if we’re marching towards “authentic goals.” If we’re chasing money, prestige or fame, of course we’ll need a manual to tell us how to do it—because we’re not naturally designed or equipped to take on that kind of life. On the other hand, when we step into the ring to do what we were born to do, our natural instincts and inherent powers will activate and carry us to where we need to go. 10-step self-help manuals need not apply.
Can you imagine if 10, 000 years ago cave men sat around fretting about how their self-esteem wasn’t quite where it needed to be to hunt their dinner for the evening? No, they didn’t have the time or the luxury to worry about these superficial kinds of things. They were already hard-wired to get what they wanted, what they needed.
Where the hell has that rugged, self-reliant spirit gone? Seriously: we need a manual to tell us how to live now?
Screw that. We should be focusing on things we’re inherently good at, like making art, making short-films, writing dramas or comedies or tragedies.
As the great comedian George Carlin once said, “Why do so many people need help? Life is not that complicated—you get up, you go to work, you eat three meals, you take one shit and you go back to bed. What’s the fucking mystery?”
I miss George Carlin.