Some of you may be aware, I spent the last two weeks in India on vacation. Two great weeks with my relatives and friends, and had an all around great time. But what I also noticed was that a lot of people there are just settling.
It’s part of the culture. I know it well enough because I was brought up there. You are taught and greatly encouraged to become a part of the society, not swim against the tide. You are taught that you must meet expectations of others, rather than follow your dreams. The idea of success is that which is generated by society as a whole – good education, good (stable) income, a house/flat, a car, savings, and children.
It’s not a bad picture. I know where it comes from. Our grandparents didn’t have that much. Our parents struggled too. So to have what they didn’t, to rise above the level you were born into, that is success.
There is nothing wrong with that. That picture has been painted all around the world for centuries. That was enough, for most people, when the world was closed, and you didn’t really know much beyond your limited circle, beyond your particular society, or your country. (But even then, there have always been, and always will be, those who managed to fork their own roads)
But not now. Now when the information from all around the world is available…now when we know what individuals can do…now we can’t possibly justify that to “settle” into a mold designed by society, by others, is the only way to live.
If the society, if the atmosphere around us, if even the people around us are repressing us, then what can we do? If remaining ordinary is the most stringent demand upon us, then how can we let the extra-ordinary out? If “being yourself” is discouraged, and “be like everyone else” is encouraged, then how and even why should we fight against the tide?
The answers to each of those is simple – TO BE SATISFIED.
I do not say happy, because you are unlikely to achieve happiness by swimming against the tide. More than likely you will end up causing rifts, arguing with your loved ones, and probably being told that you should grow up and be like everyone else.
But satisfied…yes, that is possible. Here are 4 reasons why pursuing being extraordinary makes you content:
- You get to be true to yourself
There is nothing more freeing than to be free to be yourself. It doesn’t matter what you have, where you live, who you have – if YOU – the person experience it – knows that you are pretending to be someone you are not.
- You understand what it feels like to live on your terms – fail or succeed
Pursuit of being extraordinary means to take risks. To perhaps blaze new trails. But certainly to go beyond the boxes designed to keep you in the zone the society has designed for you. You may fail…multiple times. But you can get up. Get up. Try again. And again. Until you succeed. That is a choice you have when you live on your own terms. To not give up. To keep going for your dreams. To keep forging this extraordinary person you want to become.
- Any success achieved, matters
It’s tempting to desire easy success, to have things handed to us. But think about it really – what are the things you value the most? If you are like most people (and have a conscience), the things you value the most are the things you have earned. No matter how small the victor, it’s pleasure and glory is heightened when it’s achieved through your efforts. Pursuit of extra-ordinariness results in success that matters.
- You feel alive
When you are pushing yourself to be the best you can be, when you break out of restrictions placed by others and let yourself soar, you feel this buzz…better than any drug, alcohol, or any other vice can give you. A buzz that lifts you high. That keeps you going when you are tired, when you fall, when things go wrong…it’s the buzz that makes you feel alive. Makes you feel like your life has a purpose. That you are doing something that matters. That you matter, and that everything you are capable of contributing in the world can make a difference. However small that difference may be.
Pursuit of extra-ordinariness is not about discarding the ordinary from life. After all, we all want to be loved, have financial stability, have a home, and people who love us. Those “ordinary” things aren’t the problem. It’s how you pursue them that matters. Is your pursuit a heartless chase, because you are running for things that you’ve been told you should run for? Or is it a passionate sprint because it’s a choice you’ve made?
You are capable of being extraordinary, because it is nothing more than the best version of you. Your extraordinary isn’t going to be the same as someone else’s. You are not in competition with someone else. You are in competition with you. You can choose to let external pressures (society, family, friends), or internal pressures (your insecurities and fears) repress you. You can choose to let them keep you locked into your box of ordinary. Or you can break out, and let yourself soar. You can choose to become extraordinary. It is the harder choice. But it is invariably the right choice. Because nothing else in the world can compete with being able to be the best you can be.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY
Grab your journal and answer these questions. As quickly as you can, without thinking too much:
Do you think you have anything extraordinary within you? If so, what?
What do you think it means being extraordinary?
Who are the people who make you feel you are extraordinary? Or special? Why do you think they make you feel that way? Find more of these in your life.
Who are the people who make you feel that you are less? That you are not enough? Spend less time with them.