Yesterday I watched Batman Begins for probably the 10th time in my life. The Batman movies with Christian Bale are my favorite movies about this hero. Actually, The Dark Knight series are my favorite movies of all time. The protagonist goes through an interesting transformation throughout the whole movie and what finally makes the average person a superhero is his ability to face his fears and overcome them. Something we should all do, I think.
You need to face your fears to start living a better life.
I thought about it for probably a couple of hours till I finally realized what I feared most in my life. I fear not being awesome.
Being average. Not evolving. Not being great at what I do. Being overweight. To give in to temptations. Like, eating chocolate cake and drinking more than I should. These kinds of things. Things that aren’t making me better.
Even though it’s kind of OK to fear these things, so you can avoid them, at some point, this becomes an obsession. You’re constantly thinking about what to do, or not do, in order to keep yourself away from being considered “common”, “ordinary” and most importantly not awesome.
Here I would like to talk to you about why constantly thinking about being awesome can ruin your life and how to overcome the fear of not being great at everything.
I will start with this:
Why we focus on being awesome all the time?
This desire for constant greatness starts is an evolving process.
Being number one, the best, better than others is deeply rooted in our minds ever since we’re born. It’s something that’s repeated to us in every stage of our lives.
Stage 1: Childhood
I remember when my parents were giving me lectures about my behavior: “Son, you need to act politely and speak to others with respect, otherwise you will end up looking like the neighborhood kid Peter – the kid with bad tongue, nasty haircut and no potential according to the society norms.”
I was supposed to behave all the time. I believe we all did if we wanted society to like us. “Eat your meal. Eat your vegetables. Get home on time. Sleep when you’re told. Don’t watch TV now. You’re not holding the fork properly.”
All these remarks tell our tiny brain that we need to be better in everything we do. If we don’t do it there will be consequences.
Things continue later in life when we go to school.
Stage 2: School
In the years spent behind the desk, the only way to “survive” and pass this period in life where you’re constantly judged and evaluated, is to act accordingly, do your homework, and speak when you’re selected and do what the teacher says. If even for a moment you take the luxury to speak when you’re not particularly selected by the teacher, you will be flagged by the system and others will see you like the black sheep of the class.
But above all, in school, we had to constantly strive for good grades. If you’re not an A student you’re considered as an outcast.
But the struggles don’t end after we graduate. They multiply:
Stage 3: Work
We graduate and the next thing in the predetermined list created by “everyone else” is to get a job. You need a job to buy food and have a place to live. The third stage is in a way the final period in our lives. Working to gain money is a continuous process that needs to be executed till your final days. Unless, of course, you’re an heir to an empire or a kingdom.
When you start a job, no matter the industry, the people that hired you will seek results. This applies also if you’re self-employed so don’t think that working for yourself is a hall pass for doing an average job.
Your boss will want each month better results: More sales; More clients; More leads.
If you’re working for yourself, you also need to improve and seek ways to get better at your craft. For freelancers, actually, this need for being better is actually multiplied. As technology evolves the demand for better and superb products grows. People will close your site, block your ad, dislike your video, if what you’re creating is mediocre.
But there is more…
Pressure from society
No matter which social media channel you use, you will see an excerpt of the best moments of the others. People will rarely share, if not never, the times when they are having an argument with their spouse or show us a picture of their dirty bathroom. You won’t see a picture of your favorite Instagram model without the perfect amount of makeup, would you? It’s like everyone is perfect on social media.
So all this awesomeness, all these years spent blinding pursuing grades on paper are making us think that we should always produce great work, look amazing, and make sure we carefully hide any flaws from the outside world. Everything that we do should be marvelous, extraordinary good. If there is even a small chance that you won’t be able to execute a task flawlessly, best not do it. This is how our minds begin to think at a certain point.
The above is actually the reason a lot of people will never start their own venture. Write a blog post. Speak in front of others. Express their true feelings.
I bet you canceled a speaking gig because were afraid of not doing an awesome presentation. Or, not starting your own personal blog because you think that your writing will suck.
Well, your first posts will surely suck. Probably the posts after your first 10 will suck also. But that’s not the point. If you really want to be a blogger, or a speaker, don’t look at your initial attempts as failures. Perceive them as an opportunity to get better.
So how all of this perfection influence us?
A couple of things:
We buy more:
It makes us constantly go to the store to buy something new because your best friend just posted on Instagram her new pair of shoes and the last time you bought new heals was 3 months ago.
We don’t start a YouTube channel, start writing a book, start playing guitar, till we have the best equipment. The tools the most famous people in the business have. Striving to be awesome makes us spend thousands of dollars on stuff. Instead of spending the time to learn how to improve our craft.
We’re never truly satisfied with how we look:
It makes us take ~100 selfies till we finally capture our “best self”.
We’re spending an hour of preparation before we go out because we don’t want others to see us wearing old clothes or looking at our messy hair.
We Avoid Doing New Things
We’ll probably never start writing a book even if that’s our deepest desire because we think that the ability to write good is a talent and only a handful of people in this world possess it.
We won’t apply to speak at a local event because we think that we’re not good at these things and the people watching will spot our flaws.
The examples are countless.
As you can see, there is this constant pressure from the outside world to be better. To improve and gain more.
Even though the idea of getting better every day is something I personally believe in, it’s also in a way something that is slowly destroying us from the inside.
I fear not being awesome
When I start a new site, I want everything to be perfect right from the start.1 Sometimes I’ve spent a week deciding on the logo. A week for the freakin logo!
A couple of days to get the perfect domain name for the site. Then, a couple of more days to choose the right layout. But that’s not all: What font to use; What colors; Which picture to add. A lot of the times I will spend a month to design my site without even thinking about the content or the message I want to communicate with the people that will eventually access my website, which is actually more important than the layout itself at least in the beginning.
To be honest, I know why I’m so indecisive: I’m postponing the important things because I want people to like what they see when they visit my website. I want people to like me. I want to be considered an expert. I want my teacher to see it and email me saying I have an “A” for creating websites.
My fear of not being awesome was more noticeable a couple of years ago. I was obsessed with looking good. That’s why I spend a lot of time and most of my money buying new shirts, trousers, shoes, blazers, ties, etc. I didn’t want people to see me wearing the same shirt twice for one month. I know, it’s pathetic. One of the reasons for this was a huge gap in my confidence. I didn’t think I was a good looking guy and I was trying to compensate with clothes.
How to overcome this fear of not being awesome all the time?
Literally, you have to stop giving a fuck about what others say or think about you.2 It’s extremely hard though. It’s like turning your back against the whole world.
One day you wear shirts and ties and the other day you’re wearing only black t-shirts. One day you’re posting photos of your meal the other day you’re unfollowing everyone on Facebook and people call you and ask you if you’re OK.3 Even though people genuinely don’t give a damn about you and your persona because they are busy thinking and talking about themselves, they do notice drastic changes in your behavior and looks. Especially when they don’t resonate with the status quo.
My best tips for someone who wants to overcome his fear of persistence awesomeness are the following:
Shift your focus: Focus your efforts on something outside of your own persona. I mean, don’t think so much about how you look or what you wear, think more about what you do and how you spent your time. I will mention the Batman movie once again by referring to the following line from the movie: “It’s not who I am underneath but what I do that defines me.”4 You can be the ugliest person in the world but if the work you do is helping millions of people no one will care or notice.
Ignore everyone else: Being selfish is not a quality a lot of people will recommend but it’s something you must adopt at a certain level if you want to live a better life. Your desire to look good is influenced a lot of by what others think about you. If you don’t quite care you will free your mind. Really. The moment I stopped thinking about what others think of me was the moment I felt alive. Like I freed myself from invisible chains.
Don’t obsess with perfection: I regularly write articles on this site as well on my other site about creating sites using WordPress. A lot of times I don’t quite like the content I create. I read what I just wrote out loud and sometimes I hate it. Other times I sit on my desk to write but I don’t quite feel like writing. Still, I do it nevertheless. Everyone who is uberly productive will tell you that you need to focus more on the process than on the actual outcome. If I post only the articles I really love I will have probably 5 published articles. Even though I’m not a fan of mediocre work, I know that writing every day helps me improve. It’s like going to the gym. Sometimes you don’t have a good workout or you don’t feel like training. But if you do it anyway. If you train just for a few minutes every day, the collective workouts you make will give you better results than if you only exercise when you feel like training.
Get rid of most of your possessions: I’m not saying this to convince you that you should become a minimalist. I including it inside the list because a lot of times we buy things to look cool in front of others. If you don’t pay attention to your own stuff you will realize that stuff shouldn’t be what you mind should focus on. A lot of times I attend conversations where people dream of buying a new car that it’s newer and better. “Yes, It’s a bit more than what I can afford but it has this and that and these things will make my life super awesome”. I don’t quite get it. When you buy a new car this won’t change your life. It will probably make it worse – your car payment will be larger which will negatively influence your budget. When you stop obsessing about stuff you will understand that there are others things you should direct your efforts: your work, family, friends, life mission.
The fear of not being awesome is something real. Something that’s probably suffocating you and making you procrastinate certain tasks in your life.
You fear not being able to post good messages on your social media account and you don’t do it at all. You fear that your writing will suck, that’s why you never write a single word even though you secretly want to express yourself on paper.
It’s hard. I get it. I’ve been there as well. It’s hard to face your fears, going into the dark after watching a horror movie. We’ve all been there.
But think about it for a moment, what if after the dark there is a light that can change your life?
I want to end this post with one more mention of the movie Batman. I started with this and it’s appropriate to finish:
“What you really fear is inside yourself. You fear your own power. You fear your anger, the drive to do great or terrible things.” Ra’s Al Ghul
What do you fear?
Unfortunately, I’ve started way too many sites throughout the years. Most of them are not active anymore but they surely wasted a lot of my time.
Yes, I said the F word. Otherwise, you won’t take this seriously.
Well, they didn’t call. They will probably send you a message to ask you if you’re OK.
That’s probably the most inspiring line from the whole movie. You can hear it if you don’t remember it by going to this link here: LINK.