SPREAD YOUR WINGS
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain (1835-1910)
That’s right, Mark. Throwing off the bowlines and writing a blog, celebrating me. But why?
Well, I think Mark Twain is on the right track, although there are definitely some things I regret doing (this one time, in high school….actually many times in high school), but to have missed the boat on opportunities in time is something you can never recreate. Carpe Diem and all that jazz.
But I have a couple of other reasons to write. I figured something out when I was younger, and that was that SHARING was a really important part of life. I don’t mean just the banal distributive version of ‘share your toys with your brother’ kind of sharing, I mean share experiences. Contribute to the common knowledge and wisdom by sharing in the experience both in the moment and with stories. I am not unique (more on that topic for sure – there is a great post on waitbutwhy.com about Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy which resonates quite a lot with me), and things and emotions that I am feeling and going through have all come before me. Reading about other’s experiences has given me solace numerous times.
No one wants to be alone, which is why the “unique and special” movement of parenting falls apart, to be unique is to be an island – set apart from all others, where really, what your actions are, make you different and make you stand out. The emphasis should be on demonstrated actions, not inherent qualities. Sharing your experiences in the moment with friends, family, randoms, most of all equals, make those memories so much more satisfying, and make the stories that much better when you’re telling them. And telling them gives to the greater good, the greater intelligence, and the combined knowledge helps us learn from others foibles. So I would like to think, that, all things being equal and people being able to relate, I might have some wisdom to add to the consciousness and I may provide a source of interest, comfort or at the very least, distraction to anyone that cares to appreciate and identify with the thoughts and feelings contained in these pages.
Back to Mark Twain and his twenty years. In twenty years, I’ll be 55. At 55 my father had two children (a 25 yr old daughter and a 19 year old misfit), a wife, a career, a house or two, health and, I believe, happiness. At the moment, apart from health, I have none of those. I did have a career once however, and it is this that I am currently striving to attain once again. I WAS a piano and theory teacher. I taught hundreds of students over ten years to play piano and hoped to instil a love and appreciation of music that would endure throughout their lifetimes and that would be my legacy. While I can with absolute certainty say that I achieved this legacy in many of my students, many others left their own legacy with me. For a task that has the potential to be so rewarding, the price was steep. More often than not, I was consistently emotionally tired and I found that an unfulfilling place to be in, so I began a quest for a new path, a new career.
A career. My career. In twenty years, I would like to think that I made decisions that impacted positively upon my ‘lot’ in life. I believe in taking responsibility for ones actions, that you determine your fate, that you are empowered to make things happen and most of all, it is ALL UP TO YOU!!! So, following that line of thinking, it is ALL UP TO ME!! And here is my future 55 year old self taking action in my 35 year old body and taking responsibility for providing for the future, by making the most of now.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been applying for graduate jobs that will start the beginning of next year. I have found it tough. Not only because there is little feedback for your efforts now (apart from a couple of invitations to complete online assessments, ATM my “application is being considered” by a number of different organisations), but because they all ask me to talk about myself and in particular demand me to contrast myself against the competition. What makes ME stand out? Why should we hire YOU? What do I do better?
Competition is fundamental to us. The theory of evolution is after all “survival of the fittest” and I have no problem with competition when it comes down to it. But really, talking about myself and saying I am BETTER than anybody else is hard. My perspective is that I am not better or more special, but I can occupy and own my DIFFERENCE! I have no control over what happens after that, that valuation lies in the viewer and to believe you have any control over that leads a person down a rocky path. In marketing, a brand position is by definition “the space a brand occupies in the mind of the consumer RELATIVE to the competition”. That is, whatever activities I do as a person, will be judged by others and as such I will be compared to my competitors. Standing out, means standing up and standing for something. By owning something, you draw a line in the sand, and stand across from the side of same.
So here I am, I have the same makeup physically as everybody else, and I experience the same emotions as everybody else and share many experiences that will be familiar to others, but I’m here to point out what I stand for, and who I am, which will distinguish me from another. I am not BETTER than anybody, I am just me.