With the presidential primaries in full swing, I’m reminded of how important our vote is. During this time, we see the variety of voters within the USA. Some are extremely vocal; fighting tooth and nail to prop them into candidacy. Others are largely apathetic of the whole process: waiting for someone to tell them who to pick. Regardless of your political affiliation, it’s easy to find ourselves at the mercy of other people’s opinions.
Who can blame us for doing so? We’re individuals who require social interaction to thrive and survive. So of course we are susceptible to being swayed by the opinions of others. This is particularly problematic on the internet: where trolls get under our skin and destroy our self-esteem with a few words. Sure, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believe their (wrong) opinion, but it isn’t worth it.
In the end, even if you have a fair share of haters, you have to be your own biggest fan. You have to be the one proclaiming from the mountain top that are the best person for the job/art/opportunity. This is especially true for determining who runs your life (hint: it better be you).
Falling into the crowd trap
We are extremely susceptible to peer pressure. The evidence is painted throughout history (the most prominent times during WWI and WWII) where we see good people let terrible things occur around or to them. I get that in most cases, we aren’t letting ourselves be influenced to this scale. However, let’s look at this at a smaller, less drastic scale.
Let’s take an every day situation. Say you’re having a debate with some friends and you are in the minority. What happens when you don’t agree with your friends’ opinion? Many wouldn’t fault you for siding with the majority because it is significantly easier to “go with the flow.” It saves you the trouble from stirring the pot and potentially being ostracized from the group (which let’s face it, rarely happens even in the most extreme cases). As I’ve discussed before, fear becomes the driver of how we treat new experiences. Fear of the unknown crops up when our beliefs are challenged; where the status quo is quick to inform us of what we should believe. Sure, it’s easy to follow the crowd and accept that, “This is the way it’s always been. It is what it is.” However, is that portraying who you are and how you live your life?
Let’s take the two of the presidential candidates that embody this idea: Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Sure, their ideological differences are vastly different. However, they share something in common: each has a fervent belief in themselves and their mission. Throughout the primary season, we rarely see these two deviate from their popular ideals. One believes himself as the shrewd entrepreneur to fix America, while the other sees himself as a warrior seeking to overhaul government for everyone. Both individuals command respect with their fervor and seek to change the status quo. In fact, it’s so intense that their respective political parties are actively working to hinder their efforts. Whether we agree or disagree with either candidate, there’s one thing we can’t deny. Despite surmounting resistance from their parties, both men continue forward despite seemingly impossible circumstances.
Electing yourself: YOU know what’s best for YOU
When recently asked by Politico who he would vote for, Bernie Sanders answered candidly:
“‘I will tell you after a lot of thought, I voted for me for president,’ the Vermont senator said, smiling at a man he had just taken a selfie with.”
You may be exclaiming, “Of course, he’s running for president and it would be stupid not to!” However, let’s look at this in a different light.
Let’s reflect on how we view ourselves in similar situations. If you were asked this question, say for a role in creating or starting something you believe could make a difference, would you have the same answer? In other words, would you nominate yourself as being the best person for the job (if you had the qualifications, etc.)? Or would you rely on being “picked” by the crowd? The same applies for being the master of the life you lead. We rely too much on being “picked”; including how we choose to live and what we can do with our talents.
It seems obvious in a political landscape, voting for yourself is something a candidate must do. However, many people do not vote for themselves in working on their vision, direction, or even to manage their lives. We would rather be told what to do and have someone “pick” us. Expecting someone to see your potential because you exist will keep you imprisoned within the status quo. It will not move you, your goals, or personal identity to the heights they could be.
Much of this deals with the issue of self-belief; where we have to be convinced that we have what it takes. We must pick ourselves. Otherwise, we won’t be able act on the potentially ground breaking idea or overcome fears that positively transform us. Without this ability to pick ourselves, we are forever at the mercy of the status quo; which desires the opposite.
Cultivating your electable persona
If you currently don’t have much self-belief, that’s alright. It isn’t going to materialize overnight nor should you expect it to. It’s going to take time and reflection; where you must decide what you truly want in life and how your short existence will be best spent. During these reflections, you have the opportunity to be selfish in what you truly want in life. In these initial brain storming sessions, you don’t need to consider anything outside of what you truly want out of life (these considerations include financials, family, etc…that comes in the next steps). This starts by asking yourself, “What do I truly want in life? How do I want to spend my remaining 60-80 years? This may take a good amount of time. And remember: the more specific, the better.
If you’re struggling to answer this question, try answering, “If money or time wasn’t an issue, what would I do for the rest of my life?” Though an extreme example, this will point you in the general direction you’re most passionate about. It’s not uncommon to feel fear while rolling through the process. Interestingly, this fear can serve as a compass. It can guide and direct you to where you should be going, but have been hindered because of x, y, or z reasons. Remember my post about failure HERE? You have to believe that even if it doesn’t work out, you can adapt and try again. Even if it’s not exactly what you thought, this process gives you the ability to find your next niche’ or project where you pick yourself to thrive in it. It’s okay to be lofty, dream big and work on the small steps to get there.
Once you have “picked” yourself for deciding how you spend your life, don’t ever look back. You must elect yourself into that position and not be swayed. You have to be ruthless in defending your passions; it’s the only way forward. If there was a TL;DR for this post (Too Long; Didn’t Read, for those less Reddit savvy readers), it’d be this quote from Marianne Willaimson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed the post, please share this around. I would love for this message to reach more people. Have a great day!