Monday, November 11, 2013

What to Do When You Feel Ordinary


I never see it coming. 

One moment I'm pleased with my choices, content with my lot, and proud of my achievements. The next I'm overcome by a crushing sense of pointlessness. Whether this feeling is valid or not is irrelevant.  It feels true, and therefore must be dealt with.

Sometimes it comes from hearing on the news that somewhere out there, someone has done something absolutely amazing -- something that I could never do even were I given all the resources in the world and a billion years. Other times this feeling echoes closer to the bone. I read on social media of a friend accomplishing greatness. Going distant and deep. Being. Doing. Thriving. 

Whether we're pondering galaxies, staring out over the vastness of the ocean, considering life in light of our peers, or evaluating our place in the scope of living history, contemplating greatness rarely leaves us feeling significant.

What to Do When You Feel Ordinary:

Step One: Stop complaining and start capitalizing. We can't all be good at everything. Figure out what you're actually good at and work to make yourself excellent at that

It's true that I will never be an Olympic athlete... or even a decent backyard athlete. I could sit around griping all day long and envying naturally athletic types until I've wasted away to nothing, but that will make nobody any happier. So instead of throwing myself against the black gates of athletic impossibility, I have decided to sit down and hone the skills that I actually have, most of which involve words rather than deeds. (What can I say: we can't all be Bo Jackson.)

So stop complaining about what you can't do and start capitalizing on what you can. Who knows. At the end of the day, there could be someone out there sitting at home feeling droopy because of their inability to do what you seem to accomplish so effortlessly.

Step Two: Stop stagnating and start venturing. While fully standing by the validity of Step One, I also encourage you to supplement your focused attempt at excellence by developing a completely nonexistent skill. Because while honing your natural gifts exclusively will puff you up with pride, pushing against your limits will bring some much-needed humility. 

You'd better believe that when I'm on the mats every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, nobody gives a rip that  if called upon, I could fluidly narrate our entire workout in a series of snarky heroic couplets. They do care, however, that I can't seem to hold the sparring pads correctly: a simple enough task that I seem to find more complicated than brain surgery. 

Instant humility.

But whatever range of emotion I experience while training, at least I never feel ordinary. On the contrary, there are few experiences in life less ordinary than taking a stiff roundhouse kick and living to tell the tale. 

Step Three: Stop moping and start doing. Whatever you do, do something. Awesome people do not behave like outcasts tapping on the glass of life, wishing that someone would let them participate. 

They're out making life awesome. 

Get up and go join them. 

Step Four: Anchor your sense of significance in something greater than yourself. Some would understand this to mean the mere dedication of their lives to a great social or humanitarian cause. While I think that doing so would give a greater sense of significance, the results would only be temporary. 

This actually means a lifelong pursuit of finding identity in Christ. In his presence, regardless of natural gifts, abilities, or experiences, we find a worth and significance beyond the ability to measure. 

Realizing that you are known by the Creator of the universe - that you matter to him - is the ultimate solution to feeling ordinary. 

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