You are not special.

Our whole lives, we’re told we’re special. That we have something that nobody else has. That we’re the smartest kid in class. The handsomest boy in the school. We’re conditioned into thinking that the world is ours and that we deserve to succeed.

Listen up: You are not special. Despite what your parents and peers may have told you throughout your life, it’s statistically likely that you are not a child genius. You are not the next Mark Zuckerberg. You aren’t the best looking kid in school. You’re not incredible at what you do. Statistically speaking, you’re pretty normal.

It’s so easy in life to just go through the motions. To float through your day, completely tuned out from what’s going on around you.

Wake up. Drive. Work. Eat. Sleep.

I’ve often pondered how people can go through their lives by just going through the motions. I’m surrounded by people that do every day. How come everyone else seems to be just fine with the status quo, but I’m fighting internally about whether or not I want to live a life like this. How is that possible? Am I weird?

I’ve had this post in my drafts for some time, but haven’t been able to finish it. In somewhat ironic timing, Dustin Curtis wrote about something very similar:

It used to confuse and fascinate me how so many people with great dreams and great visions of the future can live such ordinary, repetitive lives. But now I know. I’ve experienced it. Doing something remarkable with your life is tough work, and it helps to remember one simple, motivating fact: in a blink, you could be gone.

The fragility of life is both terrifying and motivating. I haven’t gone through a major life threatening event yet, but I was religious for a long time. I mindlessly thought that my life was some sort of a gift from God, and that I was here for a reason. A year ago, I woke up one day and couldn’t convince myself that it was believable at all, so I just ended that part of my life that day. I changed my entire mindset because I wasn’t satisfied that I was living my life to it’s entirety, since I was told God tends to work by making you wait around for something to happen.

All of a sudden, the purposeful life I was living – the one that was ‘driven’ by a deity – was gone. I had lived a life of not caring about consequences or considering death, since I was supposedly going to live forever in a mythical place called heaven anyway. I woke up to the fragility of life, and was terrified.

Suddenly, I wasn’t special anymore. There wasn’t a deity protecting me. I could die at any moment and it would be over. That’s it. It crippled me for a long time. I found menial tasks terrifying because there was a risk of death! I’d walk to work and wonder as I waited to cross the roads if maybe this would be it.

That thought is probably the most motivating thought that continually haunts me. Pushes me to do great things. To break the ordinary. To adventure into the unknown. I know I’m not inherently special, but I can make myself special. By not putting your dreams off until some mythical date in the future when you’re going to do that thing you’ve always wanted to do, you’re already winning.

By breaking out from the ordinary, doing great things, ‘fighting’ the status quo and pushing the boundaries, you define your own ‘special’. It might mean doing something completely radical and living on the edge, or it might start with something small. Either way, it won’t be easy. Lucky for me, my girlfriend wants me to break the fold too, so she gives me a gentle nudge in the right direction.

If you don’t constantly fight to push the envelope, you’re likely to just fall into place like everyone else. Waiting for the right moment to come before they are ready to change. Time is always against you, so defy it: do it now and do not give up until you reach your dreams.

Don’t wait. Do something amazing. Even if it’s risky. If you fail, do it again.

You aren’t special, but you can make yourself be.


Now read this

The curious case of the fake Steve Ballmer

On Twitter today, a fake Steve Ballmer quickly gained a lot of followers as people discovered the account. The account tweeted a few times, with a bunch of convincing pictures that hadn’t been posted anywhere else online, so many were... Continue →