If you were to ask me in a casual context if I was grateful for all my opportunities, I would casually say “Yes.”
I am, but I don’t act like it. Let me elaborate.
I have had quite a lot of opportunities to achieve position and/or status of great benefit to me with great efficiency. Some opportunities were efficient to the point where I didn’t have to work at all for it, I just had to be asked. Many opportunities I relinquished or at the least just let silently fade away.
You see, I didn’t feel I deserved it.
If I didn’t have to work for it, I totally felt like I cheated or took advantage of a connection I didn’t have to ask for. I have been so close to doing awesome things and I just willingly slowed or stopped that situation from developing because I felt guilty… and probably more true, I am an idiot.
Okay, maybe I’m not deserving of being labeled as an “idiot”. I’m just considerate to a fault.
I have heard the stories of people climbing the career ladder with minimal to no connections. They climbed it and ultimately had a great story to tell of pride, of how they climbed it without any shortcuts.
If I were to tell the same story about some of my opportunities, I could have started on the 4th rung up the ladder.
“Cheater.” I would imagine is what would be said about me. I have been that person labeling someone whom I perceived a “cheater”.
Then I started getting those opportunities. Nobody was calling me “cheater” but I still made myself feel like I was. Somewhere in my young life of resourcefulness, learning, and finding myself ahead of the class in knowledge, I thought to myself that I cheated to get ahead. I felt like I was doing something just for being ahead of everybody. Of course I was learning things that I would try to use wisely in real-world applications. It wasn’t empty knowledge. Still, I thought up this feeling of being too advanced that I would alienate myself.
This same general idea has always been in the back of my mind as I grew older.
I have always been afraid that I’d become arrogant if my progress was unchecked. I hated the feeling of arrogance when it came out of my mouth at the expense of someone else’s attempts. I was afraid that competition would bring out the best competitive spirit in me but also bring with it an asshole who would try to win at all costs. I was afraid of fully unleashing my confidence, that it would go straight to my head and blow up.
So instead of being confident, I became humble. Humble to a fault. I would feel guilty if I didn’t have to work hard for opportunities. I would give up opportunities because of that.
Catch-22: I would feel dejected now that I lost the opportunity.
This isn’t healthy.
Recently, I felt compelled to resolve this rationally. I had to realize one thing or another at some point because both of these sides of my thought process cannot co-exist. I thought about feeling guilty when taking opportunities that I didn’t have to work as hard as others. What would be the word that defines that sort of thing? That would be a “blessing”. I may not have had to work for it and that’s fine. Being in a position to receive such a thing without working is not an absolute statement that you did something wrong to get there. It could equally be a statement about how everybody else didn’t work hard enough. An even more rational idea, it doesn’t even matter. Life isn’t fair but life finds a way.
I thought about being afraid to be fully confident as if it meant I would fall into obnoxious arrogance. What would be the word that defines that type of person? That would be an “asshole”. Really though, I know for damn sure I’m not an asshole. Sure, it may be due to my forcing of humility but in reality, if given the opportunity, would I really fall into being an asshole? No. I have control of myself and the sense to know I will never be that guy. The reason for that would be the empathizing part of me. That is stronger than my arrogance ALWAYS.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson
I think I have learned my lesson.
Going forward from here, I cannot fear my confidence. If I did that, I would have to accept that I would be depressed from missed opportunities… which is irrational.
If opportunities arise, I cannot act like I didn’t deserve them. They have come up and they have been presented to me directly. I earned that in some way because… it’s there… for me. It doesn’t matter… I should take it if I really want it. If others get offended and I haven’t been on the offensive directly countering them, then fuck it – it’s not my problem.
If opportunities are presented, I deserve it.
I deserve it with confidence.
I deserve to be happy in my own big way.
I am… deserving.