In the age of quick hit comedy, one of the most popular fads to hit the internet were the “what I really do” memes. These six picture stories sarcastically illuminate our current status in the world and how everyone perceives what we do. Although the primary purpose of these images is to provide comic relief, many people who identify with a particular topic think to themselves “that’s about right.”
No matter what you set your sights on, the moment you tell someone about your goals and ambitions, they will draw up some unrealistic fantasy in their head. Even worse, once you begin to produce tangible results, people will romanticize your product and shower you in praise, but not in the way you would like.
They’ll fail to conceptualize the work that was necessary to produce your final product. With phrases like “you make it look so easy” and “I wish I had that gift,” you’re left wanting to pull your hair out due to the lack of recognition for the countless hours you spent slaving away, while everyone questioned your end goal.
I ask you to take a deep breath, realize this is out of your control, and keep grinding away at your craft. Receiving recognition for a job well done is great, but your motivation should come from within. This is the only source you have complete control over.
The ups and downs you go through will attract and detract numerous followers, but as long as you keep your internal conversations in balance, you will thrive.
When people are envious of your work and they express it with the comments above, understand where these comments come from.
For most people, it expresses a state of mind where they have lost sight of their dreams and have settled for a below average lifestyle. There may have been a time where they were just as motivated as you, but one particular failure stole the wind from their sails and left them stranded. Rather than picking up an oar and paddling toward a more promising position, they lowered the sails, crawled below the deck, and waited for the nightmare to end.
You cannot fault people for giving up on their dreams. Everyone has a breaking point and I for one am very thankful I haven’t reached mine.
It is unrighteous for any of us to judge a person based on our perception of their effort.
There are too many events that take place outside of our small frame of reference for any of us to label someone as lazy or undeserving of our time. I would not be where I am today without the non-contractual giving I received from friends, mentors, and complete strangers.
What do I mean by “non-contractual giving?” My favorite way to describe it is through the words of Mike Shinoda: “the sun doesn’t give light to the moon assuming the moon’s gonna owe it one.”
Giving without the expectation of reciprocity is next level living and is the truest form of habitual action. When help is asked for, I identify my ability to assist, and if I’m not the man for the job, I attempt to provide something of substance that can bring the individual closer to filling their need. This can be as simple as saying “good luck” or “I can’t help, but I know who can.”
What I will not do is choose to ignore someone’s existence. No one’s life moves too fast not to provide a kind, genuine response to a fellow human being, period. I get a little fired up about this because the selfishness I see on a daily basis, especially living in a city, is hugely disappointing. Most people wouldn’t admit it out loud, but sometimes I wonder how many people run their lives with an isolationist mentality (yes, I’m talking North Korea type of isolationism).
All of that is a long winded way for me to say I want you to think about non-contractual giving the next time you feel someone is downplaying your work.
Express the excitement you have for your work and inquire about the individual’s interests. This questioning will change the flow of the conversation where you will have an opportunity to share your story about following your dreams. Connect your experience with hypotheticals that parallel with their passions, and you will have assisted someone in honestly contemplating the direction they have chosen to travel. So, go out there and be the Leslie Knope of whatever you do. Give your whole self and you will reap rewards untouchable by all of the Negative Neds of the world.