I remember when I was 14 trying to smoke. My buddy Brent and I stole a pack of cigarettes from my mother and went off to smoke them in hiding, in case the smoking police caught us and told our parents. It was very urbane, we lit up and started to suck. We were coo, for about a second until the smoke reached my lungs and my body went, “not in here!”. I felt like I’d been hit in the chest by a baseball bat. We both hacked and barked and I almost barfed, and after about 30 seconds it calmed down and I looked at Brent and said, “Pretty smooth huh?” (I’d seen that on a commercial). I think Brent was going into cardiac arrest.
We worked away at that vile thing, hacking and gagging and my eyes were tearing up and flushed and my throat felt as though I’d been eating the sidewalk. But we were looking cool. That was until I turned green on the way home, and threw up on my bike, and drove into a ditch, and hit my head on my steering wheel, and threw up again all over my pants, and kind of passed out for a bit on the road to the air force base.
But it was a small price to pay for cool, right. And after a few dozen I didn’t get sick anymore and I was set. Course I couldn’t play sports much anymore and I stunk and it took my dad about 3 minutes to catch me and apply the hand of justice to the backside of reproach. But I was cool. I belonged and I was better than other losers who couldn’t handle their smoke.
A lot of us pridefully try to fit in, in order to be someone.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression… so they say…
As a result many of us are hungry to impress other people.
We want so bad to make a splash. Just look at the Academy Awards. It has become a contest to see who can wear the most outrageous outfit, people dressing up like birds for heaven’s sake.
Why? To stick out in the crowd, to be noticed and admired. “Love me- hate me, just don’t ignore me.
Many of us feel we have marginal personalities. We wonder if we will ever fit in, especially when we look around at those who seem to fit in far better. It leads us to perform. We are great performers, you and I. We have pretended to be many things, many different people. We have learned to fit in, to say the right things and impress the right people. Many begin to rationalize any behavior that will allow them to look successful or healthy. We lie. Though we are supposed to be adults, no longer tossed to and fro by peer pressure, the fact remains that we are all still trying to fit in, to be loved, to be adored.
I have tried to find my identity in many places, and many of those places were destructive. Girls crave love and attention so much that they settle for anything that even resembles it, mainly from guys looking for only one thing. Guys crave status and respect and when they cannot find it they are fooled by its illusion in pornography and casual sex. Lonely people longing for approval fall into the world of drugs and alcohol, and insecure people strive to get to the top, only to find their identity lost when they finish second. It is the reason for the latest trend whereby young girls of twelve or thirteen give blow jobs out as free gifts at house parties and school dances.In each case, people are looking for love and acceptance, identity; for the fulfilled life. They long to rise about their own mediocrity and worthlessness and soar like the eagle; but instead they wind up more confused as to who they are, and where they fit into the world. We have all felt the shame of insignificance, and left wondering if life is even worth it. We have all dreamed of being a ‘someone’, of being loved and adored. We have all longed to be special.
And if the truth were told many of us are convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if people really knew us, if we really acted in an authentic way, that no one would like us. I once heard a speaker say, “If you really knew me, you wouldn’t come to hear me speak. But that’s ok, because if I really knew you I wouldn’t talk to you!”
That’s our greatest fear, isn’t it? If I let you inside, if you knew that even though I get paid to be mature, be wise, be profound, say smart things, if you really knew what a screw-up I am, could you still care for me? Could you love me if you knew how ordinary I was, how black my thoughts can be, how insecure I am, how convinced I am that I am ugly? I’m a great person until you get to know me. How can I believe that someone could think I was special, love me for who I am, without any of my masks, if I can’t even learn to like myself?
The older I get the more convinced I am that this is the greatest and most difficult journey we will ever take – the road to self acceptance. As the monk once said, “When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself.”
I still want to change the world but maybe I need to start closer to home.
When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.
I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.
When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town.
I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.
Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.
Author: Unknown Monk 1100 A.D.
14 thoughts on “I Wanted To Change The World”
this is actually one of the best things I think I have read ever in blogosphere. I love the way you write…
That upsets me a lot that very often I don’t get a chance to know who someone really is. That upsets me even more that I don’t give this chance to people myself – not that often but still this still takes place. Work is in progress.
Thank you for a wonderful post.
Hope you will enjoy your weekend.
Hey there Scott,
“if people really knew us, if we really acted in an authentic way, that no one would like us.”
Isn’t it odd, the way to find out is to take that big risk, and act in an authentic way, and see what happens. What do you reckon, some people will like, some people will dislike? Because there are different people in the world? I believe that one day, the world will be filled with loving people, and all will be friends in perfect peace. Until that day, there are harsh responses from certain people to who we are. No matter who we are. I’ve come to believe that it’s a good thing not to fit in. And stopped bothering with trying. All the best in your life adventure! By the way, I believe you have a talent for writing and humor. And when you write posts about yourself, your experiences, it really touches me. It makes it easier to relate, when people share something of themselves.
Keep shining your light : )
I absolutely loved this! I made a conscious decision earlier this year to live as my authentic self. There’s no question that it’s not an easy thing to do but I am happier and freer than I ever remember being. Free to be me. It has changed my life and I hope one day the world. Great post.
preach it sister. Why did we all wait so long to get this?
I think there’s a couple of reasons. I think we lived under the mistaken impression that our authentic self didn’t ‘measure up’, and we also wanted to ‘fit in’, so we compromised who we were, to be who we thought we had to be. Two major myths. We DO measure up, and the people we wanted to fit in with often aren’t even remotely the people we want to spend time with once we start being who we really are.
Wow! You are such a good writer. I love this post…everything you mentioned is so true. It reminded me of myself when I started smoking cigarettes. I wanted to be cool; I believed I was cool, but most importantly, I was sure that I was becoming more and more like my dad, I that’s what I really wanted, to be just like him.
I realized that it was not a good idea to be exactly like him, when he was diagnosed with chronic emphysema…the doctors called it chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). That’s when I started thinking about quitting smoking, and it took me two years and several attempts to kick the habit.
Thanks for this post, and for the monk’s poem. You’re such a good blogger. I hope one day I can write posts as good as this one.
Thanks for the encouragement. I mean that.
The “if you knew me you’d hate me” mantra haunted my life for years. The only way out of it I found was to be me anyway – and slowly, as people failed to hate me, I grew to accept that I might be an ok guy after all. Hard though, and sad that this is so common.
Nice post Scott.
thanks for that. wondering what percentage of us deal with this.
dude you should totally guest blog here with that story.
I’m not sure how I’d turn it into a story, but I’d give it a go – how would that work?
I like love your attitude and think anything you feel deeply about I’d like to read. Write something up, I’ll post it as one of my days and link to you and we’ll double both our readers and introduce each other
Okay – I’ll be in touch when it’s done. Thank you – for the compliment and the invite. I admire your blog and it will be a real pleasure to take part in it.