Functionally, we have infinite opportunities throughout our lives to be extraordinary, yet few of us ever take them. To use myself as an example, I could have given a pint of blood four times a year for the past decade. That's 40 pints of blood! I could have learned more than one language by now. I could have gotten a PhD, something only 3% of Americans have. I could have earned my First Responder license, positioning me to save someone's life in the future. I could have written what could have been the most influential novel of my lifetime. You could have, too.
I have had a near infinite opportunities to be great. So have you. Yet, here I sit, average. So, probably, do you. Why is it that so many of us 'live quiet lives of desperation'? We wait to live our lives after giving it to society for 40+ years, expecting to be taken care of and allowed to finally enjoy life after retirement. Our one life to live.
The simplified answer is fear. We are afraid of failing, afraid of succeeding, and afraid of not being understood.
Why are we afraid of failing? Because of the negative connotations that we give it? Deal with it. You failed at walking before you mastered it. You failed at using a toilet before you mastered it. And you failed at reading before you accomplished it. Deal with it. The people who have succeeded are the ones who failed the most and kept on going.
Why are we afraid of succeeding? Yes, I'm asking that with a straight face. Many people think about what would happen if they fail at something. Then make plans and backup plans. My family tends to call it 'Plan C'. How many of us, though, think about the consequences of success? What happens if my business plans work out? What if I ask her out and she says yes? What if I get promoted to manager and have to lead a team? Many of us freeze up if we have nothing planned. Deal with it. Take the time to think about what will happen when you succeed.
Why are we afraid of not being understood? At some level, everyone wants at least one person to understand them, to have things in common with them. Many of us want to live in a community with others like ourselves. How many others fit the our picture of success? Deal with it. Some people will stand out and lead interesting lives while the vast majority waste away in mediocrity.
The life of the above average is not an easy one. We have to fail, succeed, and stand out in a crowd. But would you rather live the lives of those around you, or would you rather live a fun and fulfilling life?
Define your ideal life of success and live it.