A few weeks ago a friend of mine asked how often I worked out and I answered that I´m at the gym at least six days a week. Her eyes nearly fell out of her face, when she said:
“So, you are an athlete?”
Athlete. I never thought about calling myself an athlete even though I´d fit the definition perfectly. But in my mind athletes were people who break world records. Of course, that´s bullshit. Every person who engages in sports regularly can be an athlete. And I definitely am an athlete.
Once I realized the barrier, the limit I put on myself I immediately started calling myself an athlete, just like I call myself a writer regularly. I write daily and I work out daily. There is no reason for me not to call myself a writer or athlete, right?
There IS a reason. Humility. Society teaches us that showing how great we really are is morally wrong. Regular people hate successful people who are not afraid of showing their value to the world.
Whenever I tell someone about what a great writer I am they chuckle in confusion. They are not used to someone showing off what they worked for. They are content in keeping their skills for themselves. Or at least they act as if they were content.
But have you ever randomly praised someone for a skill that´s important to them? Their face will start glowing with happiness because they rely on other people to get their appreciation. Everyone wants to be praised for something they worked hard for; that´s just human nature. We are social beings after all.
On the other hand people are afraid to show off what they want to be praised for. It´s a contradiction that leads to nowhere near success. Regular people have to wait until someone notices them like dogs do. They are wasting time they could have spend getting better at their skill.
Luckily, there is a simple solution: take pride in who you are. Don´t try to hide your skills but instead show them off and praise yourself. Don´t rely on others for approval. That´s what dogs do, superheroes don´t wait for praise.
Be like Tony Stark who was so proud of his armor that he told the whole world he was Iron Man. He did not need the approval of others to know that he was a genius.
A few months ago a fellow writer complained to me about how her older sister didn´t like her recent manuscript. She then continued to explain to me that she could never be a successful writer if no one believed in her.
I had read her manuscript and knew that she had the potential to be successful. But the second she complained to me why she needed her family´s help to become successful I knew she would never live up to her full potential. She could not take pride in her work as long as other people did not approve her writing. She was doomed to always write for others, not herself. She only believed in her abilities when others believed in her.
I do not care if my family, my friends or you, fellow superhero, like my writing. I know that I like it. I know I´m a great writer who will only get better every day. I know that my writing comes from my soul, not my brain. That is why the lack of approval does not drag me down. As long as I am content with my content I simply do not care.
If I cared about other people´s opinions I´d ask them to criticize my work. Getting another person´s opinion can be helpful for improving. But I would never become discouraged just because someone didn´t like my writing.
As a modern superhero you have to rely on yourself only. Friends can make you stronger but in the end it all comes down to your own mindset. Don´t waste your energy and time trying to impress other people. Impress yourself and you will be content.