About a week ago (get that beat out of your head thank you very much) I saw one of my neighbors trying to drive her car out of her gate. Several failed attempts later, I began to perceive that she was a learner but I noticed that she didn’t have the required “L” sign to indicate this and it got me thinking. In Lagos Nigeria where I live, there is sort of a stigma that surrounds the “Learner status”. Most that have cars find it shameful to let others know that they are still learning so a lot of times, people hide the “L” sign and just drive (to the detriment of themselves and others). What I have discovered is that this attitude is a microcosm of what goes on in society.
In society, the “finished product” is what is celebrated. Every day we are regaled with stories and images of established businesses, sold out performances, best selling books and people making tons of bank. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with this but I have observed (within and without) is that we tend to look at these things and begin to compare ourselves. The person that has just started taking steps towards financial freedom starts comparing himself to the person who makes millions when he/she is asleep. The man that is putting together his first album starts comparing himself to another with sold out concerts and world tours falling out of his ear. The lady that has just started penning down her first novel starts comparing herself to the best selling author being interviewed on that popular talk show and what happens is that we start to feel ashamed. We start feeling ashamed of our “small beginnings” and then what follows is an immense pressure to “arrive” (or at least appear arrived). We don’t want to be seen as the “broke ass” hustler, no, we need to be start printing money. We don’t want to be the “upcoming” artiste, no, we need to be the platinum selling, Grammy award winning, in demand performer and we need all this NOW!
Dear reader I don’t know about you but I know this shame and pressure very very very well. I know how they can drain all the color from your life, even as everyday you wake up and your “failure” at not arriving yet is staring you in the face. I know how they can warp your entire perspective until it seems that everything you see (and hear) is mocking you. I know how it can fester and take the form of ailments that just won’t go away. I know them very well and I know that it is no way to live
So here is some counsel (if you choose to accept it) do not despise your days of small beginnings. You might have believed that life is later when you have “arrived” but i beg to differ. Life is never later, life is now. Don’t let the glamour of tomorrow blind you to the glory of the now. Yes it is true that people can (and will) seek to ridicule your little beginnings but ultimately what they say about your life isn’t as important as what you say. Everyone starts from somewhere, we ALL have little beginnings (yes even those people you are comparing yourself to). There is nothing to be ashamed of. Absolutely nothing and when you think about it, there really is no such thing as “having arrived” we are ALL learning, we are ALL growing. We may be at different stages of growth, but growth is growth. That pressure that you are feeling is a lie. Your life is no competition with anyone. This is your life, your path so walk and grow at your own pace.
Yes we live in days where the word “potential” is spoken with contempt and “finished products” are what are demanded but you know what? Forget that. You live your own life and grow and become the best that you can be. Relish your present and appreciate your small beginning. Take time right now to consider your present moment and be grateful. Acknowledge that you are in competition with no one, the success of your neighbor need not be your condemnation, let it be your inspiration instead. Everything is awesome and there is so much more to see.