Always Remember This: All Progress Begins After You Accept Yourself
It is essential to be you. In fact, the most important thing about life today is to be you. Do the thing that you really want to do, love to do. And please stop becoming that someone out there, the cool dude in town or the hot babe who runs the YouTube channel.
Its better to be yourself because everyone else is taken.
Here is a timeless story from the Puranas (ancient stories of wisdom from India) which tells the tale in a funny way. There once lived a hermit many centuries ago in the Indian jungles of the Himalayas. One day he was offering oblations to the Sun god by the lake beside his hermitage. As he was immersed in his prayers, a bird flying overhead mistakenly dropped a live mouse from his beak. The mouse fell into the sage’s palms.
A startled sage opened his eyes and found the mouse pleading to save his life. ‘Please save me, sage. Else the bird will eat me up’, she said. The sage quickly turned the mouse into a little girl and saved the mouse.
The sage started taking care of the girl like a father and she quickly became a member of the sage community. She grew up there along with other little children and became a loving daughter to the sage.
Many years later the as the girl grew into a young lady, she helped with the daily chore of the hermitage. The sage then called her one day and said to her that she would now have to be married off to a suitable boy.
Sage said ‘Look here dear daughter, I will have to find a suitable groom to marry you off with. I would not want to give your hand in marriage to just anyone. You will marry the most powerful man. So let me speak to the Sun god tomorrow. He is certainly a very powerful man’.
The next day, as was planned, the sage invited the Sun god to marry his daughter. The Sun-god smiled and said “I would be happy to. But to tell you the truth, I am not the most powerful. You have to speak to the king of Clouds. The cloud is more powerful as he can completely hide me if he wants to. Please ask the Cloud god’.
The sage invited the Cloud god and proposed his daughter’s hand in marriage. The Cloud god said ‘O Sage, I would gladly marry your daughter. But I am not the most powerful man here. The Wind god is certainly more powerful than I. If he blows hard, I have nowhere to go. Please ask the Wind god’.
So the sage called the Wind god. The Wind god said ‘I would gladly marry but I am not the most powerful man here. The Mountain god is more powerful than I. No matter how much I huff and puff I can not blow past the mountain. You have to ask the Mountain god’.
The sage now called the Mountain god. The Mountain god said, ‘O sage, I would happily marry your daughter. But I am not as powerful as you think. There is one person I cannot match. No matter how big and powerful I am, I cannot prevent the mountain rat from making holes in my range and build a tunnel to the other side. I think the mountain rat is most powerful’.
The sage was amused and he invited the mountain rat to come in for a conversation. When the mountain rat arrived, the girl was delighted. The sage’s daughter immediately came up to the sage and said, ‘O sage, please allow me to marry the mountain rat’.
I never met my greatest mentor. I wanted so much to be like him. But his message was the opposite. Be yourself. With passionate intensity.
The sage remembered fondly the day that he had saved the mouse converting her into a lovely little girl. Willingly the sage turned her back into a mouse. And the two were married off.
The Purana story depicted above has an interesting parallel to the modern-day. The point is not to become a rat. But to proudly be what you are.
There is something inside you that you are best suited for. Become that. Stay the course and you will find your peace. It is not so bad to be you. In fact, there is no better thing for you to do.
By the way, I am not saying do something totally irrational like quit your job this Friday and open the bakery that you wanted to when you were a kid. But firstly become aware of ‘you’ — yourself. This deep introspection is a set of exercises you must do, if not already. There is something about you, that is simply original. That has no parallel, equal, or even remotely similar. You should become familiar with that skill set or suite of skillsets that can become valuable to others.
Once you become familiar with that (or you may already be at it for some time but just suppressed it because it didn’t appear cool). Or worse, ‘what would others think’.
This is not about a ‘fixed mindset’ either. It is about accepting your strengths and uniqueness. And using those to excel so you can go where you want to go.
And then see what value it can generate for others. Then do it. The point is to awaken to the unique you that is priceless.
About the Author: Sridhar covers tech, start-ups, marketing, and shares musings on life. Twitter: Sridhar Pai Tonse. To get these in your inbox: firstname.lastname@example.org