When I was in third grade I tried writing a novel. My teacher was a saint – she would always ask, “how’s the story coming?” I was basically copying my favorite stories of the time, but I changed the names and I reworked the plot. In my three-ring binder I scribbled away, in my room, at church, on the living room floor…
Somebody said, “Measure yourself against yourself and nobody else.”
It’s the most sensible thing I’ve ever heard about success.
When I compare myself to the rest of the world, I go against 7 billion competitors. I have 7 billion chances to fall short. In that big of a pond, the odds are low that I’ll be anything special, anything significant, or have any sort of measurable impact on the world.
When I compare myself to myself, the problem of success scales down to a workable level. I’m either better or worse than I used to be. It’s true that we’re either growing or wilting. There’s no sitting on the fence.
I’m either stronger or weaker than I was 5 years ago. Faster or Slower. More cheerful or less. I take more sick days or less. I’m more stressed or less stressed. More apt to forgive. Less motivated. More inspired. More jaded. Better at Chess, or worse.
People have potential. We have the potential to sink into a sucky version of ourselves. And we have equal potential to work harder, to do the right thing, to surprise even ourselves.
Kids come into the world with a unique potential. Kids have wants, dreams, quirks, obvious desires and talents.
If nothing else, I owe it to myself to keep improving. Forget the rest of the world. I don’t know what they’re doing and I don’t care. The news is depressing. If I watch the news, then I start to absorb all the problems and trauma and crisis’ of 7 billion people. It’s too much for anyone.
Focus on you. Focus on the kid version of yourself. It’s good to be selfish.
It’s not that other people don’t matter. The opposite is true. Because when you become a superhero, you save everyone around you.
I never finished that novel that I started when I was in third grade. I don’t know why. It was a big project. I got scared.
The kid version of myself was innocent. He meant well, his intentions were pure. I want him to be proud with how it all worked out. I want him to be happy.