I’m getting to be that age. You know, the age when you take a look at what you have (or haven’t) accomplished.
And it pisses me off so much.
It doesn’t piss me off that I’ve accomplished so little, as much as it pisses me off that other people have accomplished so much.
I wish we were judged more by how difficult it was to accomplish something rather than being judged by the accomplishment itself.
For some people, rolling out of bed every day is 100x harder than running a company would be for someone else.
For some people, earning their high school diploma is 100x harder than the master’s degree someone else earned.
We judge people based on the view from their position. Oh, you’ve reached the summit? What a beautiful view!
That other guy? He hasn’t even made it above the tree line yet.
What we don’t like to talk about is how the first guy had top-notch gear and a guide. The second guy had a pocket knife and a whole family strapped to him the whole time. And when he complained about his crappy knife, someone with expensive gear yelled down to tell him, “Well, at least you’ve got something. You should be thankful.”
Boy, do I ever want to knock those guys off the mountain.
I think it’s great that people are able to reach their goals. I really do. But there’s such a lack of self-awareness in most people. We have this idea that hard work pays off. And it does, but it doesn’t pay off equally.
I’ve always had this idea that eventually my climb would get easier. Maybe I’d get a cool parka or something. If I just kept climbing, I’d get rewarded. I’d get what I’m due.
I’d climb high enough to reach a place where people would see me standing up there. They’d appreciate me and give me a pat on the back for working so hard.
Most of the time, I’m invisible.
My high school had something called Class Day. It was a way of sending off the seniors. On that day, we’d all go into the gym and sit through some goofy prophecies and memories from the seniors. The seniors would have an opportunity to walk out into the bleachers and give gifts to the underclassmen. One year, I had some friends who were seniors. I didn’t expect to get any gifts, though.
I also didn’t expect all of my underclassmen friends—friends who weren’t any better acquainted with some of those seniors than I was—to receive gifts while I didn’t.
I didn’t want a flower or a bag of candy. I wanted to be acknowledged. I wanted to matter.
When I’m being really honest, that’s still what I want. I don’t want to be the girl everyone forgot about. I want to matter.
I irritate people sometimes because I’m hard to compliment. I don’t want to hear I look nice or anything like that, but there are ways of fueling my ego, and boy do I want that fuel.
I want people to see me. I want them to think I’ve got something to offer. I want to be wanted.
But I don’t really deserve attention and accolades any more than the people at the peak of the mountain deserve them. We’re all just using the tools available to us. What’s so special about that?
If I’d had a more stable environment when I was younger, you bet your ass I’d have used that tool to climb higher and faster. And I totally would have basked in those back-pats along the way.
If those peak guys had been forced to drop out of college or had a genetic condition that can’t be fixed, you bet your ass they’d be right where I’m at.
I need to get over worrying about how everyone else sees me.
I know what I am.
I know what I’ve walked through.
I know that sometimes I had an easy and pleasant hike up, and sometimes I was barely hanging on by my fingernails.
I know that some people look at where I’m at and they feel like they haven’t gotten as far as they should have. That’s the kind of thinking that jolts me out of my little bitterness spell.
Because I don’t ever want anyone to feel less-than because of me. I don’t want anyone to feel invisible or unappreciated.
Honey, if you’re still on the mountain at all, you’re fucking amazing.
Life’s hard. People get buried in avalanches all the time. And most of those avalanches are completely random. Managing to avoid them doesn’t make you an expert climber. It makes you lucky.
I’ve avoided a lot of them, and I know it.
And that’s just it, though, isn’t it? It’s the knowing that matters.
If you’ve made it higher than someone else, enjoy the view. But also remember that it was partially being in the right place, at the right time, that got you there. Sure, you had to make the climb yourself, but you lucked out a lot along the way too.
I bitch about where I’m at sometimes, but I know people who are way more ambitious, intelligent, driven, hard-working, and deserving than I am who are way down there still.
A few people tried to knock me off the mountain, but I didn’t fall off.
So, I have a good grip. B.F.D.
I started out with equipment an Oregon Trail farmer could’ve afforded. (Without the bonus points at the end.)
Who cares? Hell, I’ve got a lot more than a pocket knife.
It’s easy for me to forget I’ve dodged a few avalanches that have taken other people down. I fall into that same self-satisfied trap everyone else falls into. I think I deserve to avoid those avalanches. What bullshit.
Nobody deserves the fucking avalanches.
Nobody deserves the fancy starting equipment.
There’s no correlation between what we have and what we deserve.
I mean, what exactly do I deserve? I haven’t done great things for the world. I haven’t cured anything or stopped any horrible things from happening. Why do I deserve to be acknowledged and appreciated more than some other person?
I usually try to do the right thing, but most people do. I’m not any more deserving of “my day in the sun” than anyone else.
I go to the Litany of Humility when I get like this. I came across it years ago and it helps reorient me. Instead of looking up the mountain, it makes me look down the mountain.
O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved…
From the desire of being extolled …
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted …
From the desire of being approved …
From the fear of being humiliated …
From the fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes …
From the fear of being calumniated …
From the fear of being forgotten …
From the fear of being ridiculed …
From the fear of being wronged …
From the fear of being suspected …
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I …
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease …
That others may be chosen and I set aside …
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…
What are we really supposed to do with our climbing equipment? I’m not supposed to use it to make my way up the mountain. I’m supposed to use it so we can make our way up.
But I can’t do that when I’m so worried about getting all the things I want for myself.
The only way we’re going to get to the top, and deserve getting there, is if we all climb up together. That starts with lowering some ropes and lending our equipment to the people who have a harder climb than us.
I can’t control or influence what’s going on above me, but maybe I can help dig some people out of the snow. Sometimes that means I have to climb down to do that.
And maybe I should get over myself a little.
Maybe if I’m forgotten, someone else doesn’t have to be.
And maybe that’s OK.
Image Credit: Giles Williams