I wanted to clarify a point that I touched on in one of my last posts, it had to do with me and my obsession with the Self-Help world. I don’t want to beat around the bush and have you guessing as to why this blog exists. One thing I’ve noticed about the people that buy these books, tapes and courses is that they typically aren’t my age. Maybe there are a few (and if you’re reading this, let’s talk). Sure someone might pick up one of the more well-known ones, like The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It’s one of those books that gets handed out at leadership events. You might see it on the shelves at your office.
Whenever I bring up books in this genre to my peers, I typically get the response that they’re kind of interested, but not actually considering to invest the time to read them. It seemed strange. Since they’ve meant the world to me for so I long I couldn’t figure out why so few people like reading them. What set me apart? The answer isn’t something that I’d typically be stoked to share, but here it goes.
When I was younger, I always had a hard time accepting who I was. Scratch that – it’s an ongoing struggle. Towards the end of Middle School I was frequently visiting a clinic to get all my shots and tests out of the way for High School. One day, I received news from my clinician that I had been exposed to some Tuberculosis bacteria – my test came back positive. What I wasn’t expecting was that those antibiotics – those that were used to fight the bacteria, were interfering with my hormones. The outside effects of that weren’t too obvious – sure, I’m kind of small and young looking, but nothing too severe. Frankly, given my genetic background it’s not like I was going to turn out big and bearded, either.
Inside though, I felt like something was wrong with me. A perpetual child – it wasn’t the future I had in mind. I’d watch the other boys around me growing taller, growing facial hair and I wanted so badly just to be seen as their equal. Being the quiet type, I was convinced my personality wouldn’t redeem me, either. If I couldn’t look or act the way attractive people were supposed to, then I just couldn’t be one of them. I told myself that this was supposed to be my place in society: below other people.
I had the formula backwards, though. If I couldn’t see myself as an equal to others, then I wasn’t giving them a chance to do the same for me.
Along came mentor of mine who, for my High School graduation, gave me a copy of my first self-help book. You guessed it – The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It was one of the first times I came across the concept that I actually had some control over what I was thinking. Furthermore, I learned that by doing so I could become a better person. There was something I was overlooking, though. Something important:
If I fundamentally considered myself to be unlovable, all these efforts to improve myself would ultimately be fruitless.
And so I went on: either flipping pages or visiting school Psychologists to find out what things I could fix about myself. Right now I get the feeling that I’m trying to type all this as if I’m trying to convince an audience that all of this is way past me.
But I’m human. These thoughts still come back every now and then.
What I really want to share with everyone is the lesson that I needed to learn the most: that the path towards self-love doesn’t lie in stumbling across a better self-help book, lifting more weight, buying nicer clothes or getting the best grades. Respecting and honoring all of our imperfections is a good place to start. With that, I want to share a bit of what this writing means to me:
It means that I’ve succeeded.
It might be a small victory in a series of many, but it’s an important one. Being more of who I really am is one of the things I consider most important in my world. That means that I’m letting go of the need to perform for the world or prove myself to others. It means that I won’t have to read another book to fix any shortcomings I thought I had.
Thanks for reading and much love,