Lately, I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions about what makes my work unique, maybe even revolutionary in some ways.
I know it’s not all unique, I don’t think any work really is.
Did you know that when Darwin worked on the theory of evolution, several people around the world were working on the same ideas? It’s the case for a lot of big ideas we tend to attribute (and idolizes for) a single individual.
On top of this, we also tend to imagine those people having their Eureka moment by themselves, when most of the time, they were in fact working with teams. Myths die hard.
I’m reminded here of Elizabeth Gilbert’s wonderful TED on inspiration (***), reminding us that the term “genius”, as it’s used right now, is quite recent. But in its original form, you HAD a genius, you WEREN’T one. And this is very different.
Now that our culture tells us we have to BE a genius to have something really great to say, it’s provoking a lot of anxiety for us.
When Romans used to HAVE a genius, we were doing the work, and if the results weren’t good, well, you could always blame the genius for not being very engaged and inspired that day, instead of feeling like a failure.
Quite easier to manage as a disappointment, isn’t it?
Another concept came to mind a lot in my existential research.
Glennon Doyle says “I am confident because I know I am a child of God. I am humble because I know everyone else is too.”.
I love this quote, because it’s so helpful to stay grounded in reality, and also to remember that we’re all unique.
We’re all special, nothing to fuss about, but nothing to be scared about either : there’s no failures among us, only lights waiting to be undimmed and unleashed into the world.
But I’m also ambivalent about it, because we are not all special in the same way.
Our light doesn’t bring the same kind of gifts to the Universe.
And I have observed a lot of great people not letting themselves shine, as if by doing so, they wouldn’t serve others as much, especially among the helpers.
But my dear light bearers, the world needs so badly people who allow themselves to shine.
It makes me think a lot of the principle Danes have in their culture, stating that “We are all average, no-one is special”. On the paper, it’s great to avoid narcissism and megalomania.
They’re also supposed to be an especially happy country, but at the same time, have a high rate of depression and alcoholism, as well as racism issues. Those aren’t indicative at all of a happy population.
The same way, a lot of East Asian countries have a great social support system in place, honoring their ancestors (strong intergenerational bonds) but suicides, violence, burn-out and addictions are also all the rage. The same sort of things can be found in lots of countries in Africa and South America.
Those mental illnesses are indicative of a lot of loneliness, despite how social these cultures can be compared to how individualistic Whites and Western cultures can be.
Lonely people are amongst the most unhappy. We aren’t wired to feel alone. Please note before you dismiss this that this has nothing to do with being surrounded by people. I can tell you by experience (first and second hand through many many people and research) that the lonely feeling is often the strongest among people.
When I look at most cultural principles, I’m always surprised to find that so little are open to be inspired by one another, how instead, some choose to focus on how some individuals are special, others emphasize how much no one is and only the community is important.
The same way, at a smaller scale, I’m often frustrated by how much people are only interested on one side of things. With my colleagues on the Internet, I find a lot of content earring on the side of “Let’s heal our inner child” so we can all feel better and safer, or “Let’s be badasses” so we stop making the world and others responsible for our own happiness.
And over and over, I’m finding myself in the middle, asking “Why not both? Why not find the common ground of it all?”.
Not as in “Let’s stay neutral and please everyone”.
I’m having a LOT of uncomfortable conversations with all sides of all issues by asking my questions and sharing the ideas I’ve collected.
But more “Let’s stop pretending than being human is easy in any way, this is a messy business AND we need each other to go through the messiness, so we can’t wage wars with each others but we also can’t ignore we are individuals”.
When I only work with my clients on healing their inner child, they often feel better about themselves, and calmer, but also stay stuck a lot, not daring to shine the way they’re wired to. They stay hidden.
When I focus only on their badassery, they feel often strong and they achieve a lot, but they tend to forget to love themselves in the process, so they don’t relate a lot to other people, they feel isolated, like they fight against the world.
When I do both, oh dear, it’s getting a fuck lot more uncomfortable for us both. The conversations gets hard. I’m facing their defensiveness a lot more, a lot of buts, of “that’s impossible”, or excuses, and some magical times, when it gets honest : “That’s so hard”, to which I say “Yes, it is. Fortunately, we can do hard things.”.
And oh boy, the magic there is quite awesome (in the real sense of the world, not the overused way of talking to greatness : awe producing). I get a lot of “That’s contradictory to what you told me the other day”, to which I have to answer “Or it’s paradoxical : two truths that don’t seem to, but work together”.
Because you know what? Maturing as a human is a lot about accepting how paradoxical we are.
So I guess more and more, a way my light is truly shining, is when I am between two worlds that seem strangers to each other, finding their common ground, their shared humanity and reality.
Which is really funny to me when you know about how much I hated nothing more than neutrality when I was young, that extremes seemed to be where I was feeling the more myself. The middle ground appeared to me as weakness, as a lack of opinion or a way of overcomplexify things that didn’t need to be.
But like my partner lovingly told me the other day “There’s a huge difference between neutrality and mediation. You’re not neutral at all, but fuck, you’re getting great at mediations and it’s so inspiring.” [Love you, Sweets, thanks for the priceless support]
Commonality is where true collaboration and love happen.
Where we truly admit that everyone is a child of the Universe, special and with something to teach us. But also where we truly inhabit our light.
Where it gets super uncomfortable, because it gets deeply vulnerable.
Where we lose control, so we can gain inner wisdom.