Sometimes I don’t understand what my problem is; I always just want something more from life. I don’t know what I want and I don’t know why I want it, but I’m never really satisfied, not for long anyway. It’s like I’m frantically rushing to catch life’s flight, afraid that I’ll miss it, but I don’t really know what flight is it that I need to catch and I don’t know which airport it takes off from!
This need for more starts pretty early. In school it’s the marks –should be higher than the next guy, in college it’s the looks – should be better than the next guy, at work it’s the compensation package – should be fatter than the next guy. Life as a whole, well, has to be fuller than the next guy. Has to be at that maximum level of everything, but somehow, even when you reach that maximum, you start worrying about a new maximum, it doesn’t end.
Sure, wanting more is a good thing, ambition makes the world progress, but why is there always this feeling of discontentment? Striving for the best is great, but why does it come with a constant restlessness and fear of missing out?
Why is life always so full, but never fully complete?
You know who is complete? A 5 year old child, just take a look at one – raucous screaming, clothes in disarray, dirt on the face, running about stepping on people’s toes and making them jump (my toes still hurt from the one who stepped on mine today). So effortlessly complete. Doesn’t need to get anything, doesn’t need to be anyone. We were all there at a point in time, and then somewhere between 5 and 15, we became incomplete.
We were taught that we need to do extra, to achieve extra, to stay ahead – but even as we learnt ambition, no one seems to have noticed that we also learnt that ‘we are not enough’. The more we learnt about all the things we needed to do and be, we also unlearnt how to love ourselves as we are. Even as we learnt to be at the top of everything, we forgot how to accept ourselves when we are not at the top.
We all learnt social etiquette, but we never learnt how to treat our own selves
I wonder, among all the math lessons we were taught, why didn’t they knock off one of those barely survivable trigonometry lessons and teach us how to love ourselves. Honestly, we need to spend some time on this one – ‘How to love the person you will spend the rest of your life with’ – guess who – YOU!
People write a hundred odes to unconditional undying love for partners, for parents, for children, for friends, for animals – why not an ode to unconditional self love. We celebrate the fact that we can love the people in our lives irrespective of their flaws but we cannot even bring ourselves to accept our own flaws…leave alone love ourselves despite them. Of the hours and hours we spend obsessing over whether ‘XYZ’ likes us, we don’t even dedicate a minute to asking whether we like ourselves.
If we were to take all the adults on earth and give them a test on self acceptance and love – more than half the world would be sitting in detention trying to make up credit for the subject they just flunked!
As long as we are failing at that subject, no matter how much we stuff our life and make it overflow with success and social recognition, our discontentment and need for more will not go. We will keep looking for that external validation – something out there that will help us feel like we have done everything we need to do, proven everything that we need to prove. Well, there is nothing out there and we know it. If in our heads we are not good enough, we will never feel good enough. One could win the Nobel Prize and feel great for a few days until that voice in the head starts whining again – do extra, achieve extra, stay ahead – you are not good enough!
The fact is simple enough – all we need, to be complete, is a little bit of love, to give to ourselves. A little acceptance for being average, even as we strive for the best. A little kindness towards our own failures even as we pursue success. All it needs really, is to look in the mirror every once in a while and say “Well lousy fellow, you need to stop lazing around, you need to stop messing up, you really need to stop skipping gym and eating those donuts – and – I love you.”
Featured photo credit: www.consciouslifestylemag.com via consciouslifestylemag.com