Marianne Williamson once said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
Actually, I don’t think either of those are true. There are many things that make me feel inadequate – my lack of dancing skills, for example, or my complete inability to understand the rules of football. But I still happily go to ballet class faithfully every Friday night and watch football games with my friends and family. Being really terrible at some things is both acceptable and kind of fun, because I don’t expect very much of myself, so I can never be disappointed.
And on the other side of the spectrum, there are some things that I’m pretty damn great at. Like cooking. I can throw a bunch of random ingredients in a saucepan and end up with something delicious. Crossword puzzles, too. I do at least ten crossword puzzles every day. Being really awesome at things is just as low-stress as being awful at them, because I never have to wonder how they’ll turn out. I know I’ll always succeed.
I struggle with all the stuff in the middle. Not what I’m hopelessly bad at. Not what I’m consistently great at. What really gets me are the things I’m okay at. Good, but not great. Decent, but nothing special.
I love to sing. I’m pretty good at it, too. Good, but not great. I’m part of an amazing group of talented performers and I am constantly in awe of them. But I listen to the beautiful voices all around me and I think, well, I’m decent. Nothing special. I’ll never pick up a recording contract or star on Broadway. I’m just, well, okay. Ordinary.
There’s something about the prospect of ordinariness that terrifies me. I can’t laugh about my embarrassing lack of skills or retain a calm confidence in my abilities. I’m forever trying to prove to myself, and to everyone around me, that I’m good enough. No, not just good enough. I’m forever trying to prove that I’m great. Because if I can’t be great, what’s the point?
So now, I’m trying to be a writer. Or maybe I am a writer – I’m not sure what the definition of “writer” really is. And I know I’m good at it. I’m not going to sit here and deny that. But I’m scared that I’ll never be something really, truly special. That I’ll be confined to the pages of this blog for the next fifty years, never able to move on to something bigger. Destined to be ordinary.
Life is shorter than any of us like to admit. And I don’t want to be forgotten. I’m afraid that if I’m ordinary, nobody will remember me. My words, my actions, my thoughts, they’ll all be forever lost in the ether. When the last person that knows me passes on, everything I’ve ever done will disappear. I’ll just be a shadow on the pages of history, good enough to get through a lifetime, but not great enough to make a lasting impression. Nothing special.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is not that we are powerful beyond measure. Our deepest fear is that we are ordinary.