Get over yourself: You’re Not Special

Dear reader,

I see quite some number of students in one-on-one sessions. Many of them are quite miserable, especially freshmen and fresh graduates. They have problems in decision making, with procrastination, concentration, problems with relationships, bad habits or problems related to their socio-economic situation. But most of them are quite unhappy, they feel trapped, disappointed, sometimes even bored and sick of everything. They want something big to happen in their life, they are waiting for their breakthrough and somehow nothing happens. They want to dream and achieve big, but someting goes wrong. Why does everybody have a better life than I have? Everybody travels, everybody has 500 likes on facebook, everybody has better times than I have. I hate my life, my body, my friends, nothing really matters to me, they say sometimes.

Of course most of them are doing great in sessions eventually, but before the change can happen, they need to swallow a huge piece of fact most of them did not see coming. The fact that they are not special.

It hurts knowing that you actually don’t stand out of the crowd. It hurts like hell to confess that you might actually be “just” the average. The thing is that many of these young people were brought up by permissive parenting, without borders and with self esteem boosters, which was a mantra through the last 20 or 30 years. It’s neither their fault, nor their parent’s.  It was Zeitgeist. But what happens with youngsters who were told that they were perfect?  That they were special? First, they have hard time to learn respect for others. Second, they  are waiting to be served, because that’s what they are used to. Third, eventually they grow up. And as they do, they become miserable, because the big breakthrough they were waiting for, doesn’t happen. They start getting bad grades and blame their professors. They drop out of university and they blame their parents or the school system. They don’t get jobs and they blame the employers. I’m not saying it isn’t partly on other stakeholder’s shoulders, just want to illustrate that it’s always somebody else’s fault and never theirs.

In the crowd where everybody was told to be perfect and special, suddenly there isn’t anything special about being special. Realising this hurts. So what happens is that they wait, thinking “Sure, we’re not that perfect and not everybody can be”, but secretly they think: “but I am an exception.” Sorry, sadly, you’re 99% not. No, you’re not that 1 percent.

Neither am I, or is your neighbour, a friend, your boss, our president, that popstar on youtube. Most of us are just average. And there’s nothing bad about that, because that binds us; that unites us. In the world imbued with individualism and competition it is long forgotten what collectivity looks like. This might be one tiny reminder that we’re all in this together. And that’s okay. Others are miserable too. So don’t make their life even more miserable. When you suffer, look in the eyes of others. They are suffering too. We all want to be accepted, appreciated, loved. And we all deserve this. That’s actually the slogan of our fb page. We deserve this. But we are nothing special.

So as soon as you realize the bigger picture and forget about yourself a little bit, you are awarded immensely. You are able to breathe. You no longer feel pressured to perform. No longer have to compare to others. No longer have to worry whether you’ll manage. Because you can trust that you will, somehow. You have done it before and you can do it again. Only this time without this overwhelming feeling of self-care, self confidence, self image, self pride and stupid self-help industry products and inventions.

You are great. And so are others. Stop comparing, because you’re no better than they are. Or worse. We’re in this together.


None of these beans were anything special. But together they made a perfect salad.

Just Do It!

Dear reader,

I’m burying my morning run sneakers today. They’ve served me well for more than 4 years and as from today, they will rest in peace. I discovered holes on both sides of both shoes and as I was thinking about all the mornings and miles we run together and all the ideas I got while wearing them, they’ve inspired me for this post.

For a while now, I’m writing a chapter in my thesis about identity and self-concept that comes with it. I do this, because it is important to understand how identities are shaped in order to later on understand activation of stereotypes and prejudice. It’s fascinating how our contemporary world is imbued with concerns about the Self, from within the Self and for the Self. The self-help industry and happiness industry are thriving as we are sinking deeper and deeper into isolation and lack of trust on one hand and try to cultivate sometimes even super powers, skills and competencies on the other, all in order to prosper, make progress/profit or to impress people who often don’t even care about us.

What about our character? Our moral responsibility for this world? Our sensitization for injustice? We are too busy finding ourselves and we get lost in overthinking (a nice word for that is ruminating). We forget that overthinking often leads to negative thoughts and can even detach you from your basic life purpose. We don’t become good by thinking about being good. We don’t master a certain skill or learn a new habit if we only think about it. We don’t solve our problems with our partner if we analyse our relationship until there’s nothing left to analyse. We don’t find ourselves by constantly being soaked in our thoughts and by spending every second we have, focusing on ourselves.

That’s, in most cases, a mere waste of time. Time you’ll never get back.

As usual, this is nothing new to discover. I’m always impressed how we as mankind have learned so little and that the Greek philosophers have figured most things out already.

If you want to get on with your life, get moving. Go, stand up now and DO all the things you are thinking about doing. Or simply stop thinking and start doing. Aristotle suggested this, as he said:

We become just by performing just action, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave action.”

Character is forming through doing, through engaging with others in meaningful conversations, through getting on with your life, wherever that may be. So put away your self-help book and go out. Stop thinking about all that could have been or all bad things that have happened to you and call somebody who is about to celebrate their birthday and ask them what they want for a present. You don’t need a therapist to “fix” you. You don’t need an expert to tell you how to live your life. You just need to start DOING things and through doing things that are meaningful for you and have benefits for the community, you’ll shape your character in terms of self-respect, courage, moral responsibility and empathy. If it scares you, good. It means it is worth it. If you have doubts, great. It means you are doing something challenging. Are you afraid you’ll fail? You probably will at least sometimes, and that’s awesome, because you can’t learn if you don’t fail every now and then. Don’t follow others who want to make you a happiness industry consumer. Go figure out what makes YOU getting on with your life. And figure it out by just doing it.

What difference would that make for you?

bajbaj shoes

Meet my sneakers. They will go to a trashcan now, but the story will stay on the web probably forever. They might even get famous!