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It’s Better to Be Nobody Than Somebody

It’s Better to Be Nobody Than Somebody

Most of us desire to fit in, but if we’re good at what we do, we want to stand out. The quest for notoriety leads people to reach incredible heights, but is fame all it’s cracked up to be?

Pixar’s rise to greatness is a good example of how fame has its pros and cons. When they made Toy Story, they invented an entirely new way to make animated films. They knew that the film would present many challenges, but they also felt they could tell a great story.

Toy Story wound up grossing $373,554,033 worldwide, and Pixar became a household name. John Lasseter, the company’s founder, describes his experience with Pixar’s second film, A Bug’s Life:[1]

“When we made Toy Story nobody knew who we were but now… I felt like we were making A Bug’s Life in a fishbowl.”

    The notoriety put the studio under pressure to make something as good as or better than Toy Story. They had to improve their technique and avoid the sophomore slump.

    The unknown studio had the freedom to do whatever it wanted, provided they could find talent and money.[2] As a big animation studio, audiences are much more critical, and they have to answer to Disney.

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    Being famous has its perks. We love validation, and having people recognize our talents is an amazing feeling. Feeling like a nobody who can’t seem to turn their dreams into reality doesn’t feel great.

    Obscurity isn’t all bad, though. Don’t let the quest for fame deprive you of the fruits that come from being an unknown.

    Being invisible is scary

      We humans are a social bunch. We learned to stick together because doing so increased our chances of survival. Exile from the group made it tough to get all the resources necessary to make it.

      Beyond evolutionary reasons for sticking together, we’re sensitive to being left out. Deep down, most people just want to be wanted. When we feel invisible, it can create an existential crisis for us.

      When we’re left in the shadows, we often feel sad and envious of people in the spotlight, who seems happy to live in the spotlight and have the attention of people around him.

      When we feel like somebodies instead of nobodies, we don’t question our existence. Our position in society is constantly reinforced by the attention we receive from others.

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      Being famous is not fun

        Being famous satisfies some needs, but it creates others. When you’re famous, you can’t just do whatever you want. You can’t take on certain types of projects because your audience has expectations about what you can and can’t create.

        When you live “under the radar,” you are free to make mistakes. As more people recognize and look up to you, they’ll watch your every move. They usually do this out of love, but it can feel like you don’t have any privacy. Every decision you make is on display. You have to be careful about everything you do when you’re famous.

        Fame also brings more responsibility. The stakes are higher when you start a new project because you have a lot to lose. As you gain fame, other people depend on you. If your new project fails miserably, you might cost yourself and your team their livelihoods.

        Pixar has much more at stake now than when started. They’re responsible to shareholders, and they have an audience that expects them to deliver. Taking a big risk could cost them more money and resources than when they first got into the animation business.

        The perk of obscurity

          Everyone is an unknown for some of their journey. You should embrace and enjoy having the chance to rise and improve. You can make mistakes, and nobody will notice. You don’t have as many worries, your risks are smaller, and if you fail, you can bounce back quickly. Obscurity can be liberating.

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          Imagine you’re an unknown author who decides to publish a novel unlike anything you’ve done before. The novel tanks, but since nobody knew who you were, you were able to spend some time reflecting on what happened. You realized that you were writing what you thought people wanted instead of being true to yourself.

          If you had made the same mistake as an established author, your audience would not be forgiving. They might think that you’re washed up instead of recognizing that you are experimenting. Obscurity gives you the freedom to find out who you are without having to answer to others.

          Being well-known has its advantages, but the cost can be high too. It’s best to appreciate your life for exactly what it is. If you want to achieve fame, realize that the entire journey from being nobody to somebody (not just the part where you’re famous) is important.

          Being somebody doesn’t mean that you need to be world-famous. You can be somebody in your hometown or city. If you’ve achieved what you want, you are somebody. Obscurity is just one part of that journey to being who you want to be and doing what you want to do.

          Fame is an endless chase

          We’ve all heard about people getting their 15 minutes of fame or becoming one-hit wonders. Fame is always subject to change. You may have times when your work is very popular, and there might be points when people don’t know your name. Only a few people have staying-power to be famous forever.

          The public’s attention span is short. Even very famous people don’t get attention 24/7. Some of them crave their alone-time, while others seem confused and upset by it. Lady Gaga stated in the documentary Gaga: Five Foot Two:[3]

          “…And I go from everyone touching me all day and talking at me all day to total silence.”

          The endless chase to be validated and recognized is exhausting and unhealthy.

          Be a nobody for a while

          Realize that fame is the side effect of luck, hard work, and circumstance. Take in the good and bad about living in obscurity for a while. Being an unknown gives you the chance to fail and take risks without destroying your career.

          Every failure will help you improve and refine your mission. Obscurity is your playground. Go there and get creative without worrying about anything other than the things that you love. Living in obscurity and being okay with it will teach you what you need to know to handle fame one day.

          We think that the lives of famous people are easy, but that is only because we see the results of the hard work that they did in obscurity. When Sylvester Stallone wrote the script for Rocky, he was so poor that he had to sell his dog to survive.[4] Chris Pratt lived in a van before he got his big break in Hollywood.[5]

          The journey from obscurity takes time, and you learn many lessons along the way. You find out what you’re made of, and you refine your craft until it’s ready for the world to enjoy. Instead of worry about getting famous, concentrate on being the best version of yourself that you can be.

          Reference

          More by this author

          Leon Ho

          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

          Ditch Work Life Balance and Embrace Work Life Harmony Habits and Motivation: Master Both for Big Results How to Prevent Inaction from Leading to Regret The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive Stop Waiting For Your Dream Job and Go Ask For It

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          Last Updated on May 21, 2019

          Signs Of Low Self-Esteem And The Root Causes You Might Not Know

          Signs Of Low Self-Esteem And The Root Causes You Might Not Know

          People who have low self esteem are always hard on themselves. Sometimes they even cannot truly accept compliments because they would second guess people’s intentions.

            In this article, we’ll look into the symptoms of a low esteem person and what you can do if you find yourself having self-esteem issues.

            Symptoms of a Low Self-Esteem Person

            Common Symptoms

            • Unable to trust your own opinion
            • Always overthinking
            • Afraid to take challenges, being worried you wouldn’t overcome them
            • Hard on yourself but lenient with others
            • Frequent anxiety and emotional turmoil

            Lesser-Known Symptoms

            Being a workaholic

            At work expectations are set clearly. Even if there’s pressure in the workplace, compared to relationships or the social world where so much is unknown and uncontrollable, work is more straightforward.

            It’s easier to meet the expectations and perform well at work. Therefore, some people with low self-esteem would shift their focus to work and put all their energies there.

            Overachieving or underachieving

            Many of us have already heard that people with low self-esteem tend to be under-achievers as they’re too afraid to take new challenges and not confident enough to fully utilize their talents.

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            However, there’s another extreme. Some of them are too anxious of failure and being rejected, so they will try their very best to be outstanding to prove their worth.

            Causes of Low Self-Esteem

            Most of the time it stems from our childhood. Here’re some negative early experiences that lead to low self-esteem:[1]

            • Frequent punishment
            • Frequent neglect
            • Chronic abuse
            • Harsh parental standards
            • Being bullied/boycotted
            • Being on the receiving end of someone else’s stress or despair
            • Lack of praise, warmth and affection
            • Staying in a family or group where other members are prejudiced towards

            Childhood is when we form our “Bottom Line” and “Rules for Living” which affects the way we think, that’s why all the negative early experiences can have a very long-lasting effect on our adulthood.

            How “Bottom Line” Affects Your Self-Esteem

            “Bottom Line” is how you usually feel about something, based on your early experience. For example, “how you felt when you first left home becomes the emotional bottom line for when you leave other things in your life.”, according to therapist Robert Taibbi [2].

            When we talk about self-esteem, the bottom line is about how people around you treat you, as we grow up taking the voices of people who are significant to us. Did they say you’re adorable, or you’re always not good enough? Did they neglect you that made you feel worthless?

            That largely affects the way you view yourself and hence affect your self-esteem.

            How “Bottom Line” Determines Your “Rules for Living

            Based on the “Bottom Line”, we would form our “Rules for Living”, which are the strategies for dealing with life. For example, if you have the belief that you are always inferior to others, your Rules for Living would be “better not to speak up and to keep a low profile”.

            How Low Self-Esteem Affects Every Aspect of Your Life

            So what are the consequences of having low self-esteem?

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            It Makes You Confuse Love with Low Self-Esteem

            Having a low self-esteem, you expect people to treat you badly.

            When people are being just quite nice to you, you feel overjoyed and have unrealistically good feelings for them. This can be easily mistaken as love and also scare people away who might be just interested in being friends with you (at first).

            It Makes You Have a Lower Hand in the Relationship

            As you think your partner is too good for you, you bear things that you shouldn’t stand for.

            Sometimes you even confuse love with self-esteem. Are you giving in really because you love him/her so much or you just dare not to speak up and bargain?

            It Makes Your Employers Feel That You’re Not Talented

            People with low esteem sometimes are actually gifted. But they don’t know how to show it and “sell” themselves.

            During meeting, they keep quiet, during presentation they speak weakly, during daily conversation they say “sorry” and “maybe” too often…As a result, employers and other colleagues perceive people with low esteem as people without much talents.

            It Can Lead to Depression

            Over time, low self-esteem can lead to depression according to a study done by University of Basel researchers.[3] Psychologist Dr. Lars Madsen added that low self-esteem is “a key factor in both the development and maintenance of depression”.

            How to Improve Self-Esteem

            As we can see, low self-esteem is a deeply rooted issue and leads to lots of consequences. To solve it, it’s not an easy task, but it’s possible. The key is, to use the right ways.

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            1. Ignore All Those “Positivity” Advice

            Very often, we hear people say “Stay positive”, “Hey cheer up!”. People with depression know all these do not help. It just makes them feel worse.

            Same for low self-esteem, simply telling people “To me you’re wonderful!”, “You’re actually awesome”, “Why don’t you appreciate yourself more?”, or even worse “Hey you should be more confident” does not improve their self-esteem. Instead, they would feel inadequate or even guilty of their behavior.

            2. Focus Elsewhere

            “Healthy self esteem needs to emerge subtly.”[4]

            Same as happiness, you don’t immediately feel happier when you tell yourself to be happier. You need some concrete ways to do so like pursuing a goal that truly matters to you, like spending quality time with your loved ones.

            When you want to improve your self-esteem, don’t try too hard on thinking of ways to do so. There’s no direct way to improve it. It should be a by-product of our overall life’s satisfaction.

            According to psychologist Abraham Maslow,[5] to live a fulfilling life, you should take care the 5 levels of human basic needs. To help you understand more about this psychological model we made a video to explain it:

            Or you can refer to the graph below:

            5 Levels of Human Basic Needs

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              To focus elsewhere, we’ve summarized the above items and put them into this list for you:

              • Deep connection with loved ones
              • A healthy body
              • Sense of control
              • A meaningful life purpose
              • Recognition and respect from others
              • Sense of security
              • Creativity

              As you gradually equip yourself with the skills to fulfil the above needs, you’ll forget about self-esteem and suddenly you’ll find that you just feel proud of yourself when you know so much that others don’t.

              Resources to Help Increase Your Self Esteem

              To help you gradually build your self-esteem, here’s a list of the best self-help books that can help you fulfil the goals:

              1. How to Win Friends & Influence People
              2. Outliers: The Story of Success By Malcolm Gladwell
              3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
              4. Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time
              5. The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health
              6. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Busines
              7. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts
              8. Thinking, Fast and Slow
              9. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
              10. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

              The Bottom Line

              If you find yourself having low self-esteem, don’t be hopeless. Have faith in yourself that you can regain self-esteem and become a confident and successful person.

              How?

              Understand the root causes of your low self-esteem and overcome these causes with the advice in this article.

              Featured photo credit: Joe Gardner via unsplash.com

              Reference

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