I Got Nothin’

Girl playing electric guitar --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

I can’t tell you how many writers I work with who believe they have “nothing new” to say. I can’t tell you how many clients I work with who feel they have “nothing special” to offer potential employers, potential mates, or even the current people and responsibilities in their lives.

I might actually have had a stray thought or two myself about having “nothing big” to offer the world now and again.

Where in the world did this Goofy-like, scrape a toe in the dirt, “Awwrrr, shucks” self-deprecation come from? Some of us were belittled or ignored or even abused as children. But even among those who were supported and told they were awesome and could do anything (I was one of these), we still somehow manage to hide our lights under some pretty big bushels. So big, in fact, that even we can’t find them. Where did our sense of specialness go?

Some of it is societal, cultural. While the ambitious and iconoclastic individual may be celebrated in the media (but only after he/she is successful), it doesn’t play out that way for most of us in our peer groups. We start, horrifically young, trying not to stand out, trying, above all else, to fit in. No surprise, perhaps, that by the time we’ve been hatched from high school, we are little flocks of sheep, ducks, geese—pick your barnyard animal who doesn’t want to stand out in case he or she is the one that attracts the farmer’s attention and gets the axe.

What beliefs might you be holding onto, even unconsciously, that are perpetuating this belief that standing out isn’t seemly or safe? That whatever unique awesomeness you have to offer is so negligible or weird that you’d be better off keeping it to yourself, maybe even keeping it a secret from yourself?

I tell my writing clients that every major theme has indeed, already been covered. But no one has read their unique take on it before. How many of you would say, “Oh, I don’t want to read a book about a relationship that comes together, falls apart, then comes together again–I’ve already read a book about that.”?

Similarly, what each of us has to offer outside the world of writing is also unique. Consider the absurdity of someone saying, “I’m not going to a doctor, I went to one once forty years ago.” Or “Teachers? Yeah, I had one once. All done with that.”

Whatever it is you do—from managing major corporations to running a hot dog stand—you do it as only you can do it. You don’t even have to try to be or worry about being special. You simply are, just by virtue of being alive in the world.

You do things like only you do them. You write like only you can write. You love like only you can love. Not a single one of us out here are exactly like you. You are truly unique.

Now, for some people, this stirs up even more angst. They don’t want to stand out. They don’t want to be considered weird. They think it’s safer to hide in the crowd.

To them I say (and please do feel free to picture Dr. Phil here), “How’s that workin’ out for ya?” Do you actually feel all safe and satisfied and fulfilled hiding in that big herd or the safety of your own bubble?

For some great ideas on how to get out of this uncomfortable little closet some of us find ourselves crouching in, go see your nearest two-year-old friend. Almost guaranteed that they think they’re awesome. They pipe up with anything that comes into their head. They ask why a kabillion times a day. They see everything they run into with fresh eyes. They know the truth: they are the center of their universe.They are willing to try anything. Well, except maybe peas.

What did you love, when you were two, or even four? What did you think was just awesome about yourself? Can you close your eyes, reach your mind back, and remember how that felt, when you were the center of your world and there wasn’t anything you thought you couldn’t do?

At that age, my son planned to be a paleontologist policeman teacher. Why the heck not? He loved to sing at the top of his lungs and cared nothing about the fact that he was off-key. He loved to use his body and enjoy its growing strength. He had no concept of the idea of “fitting in.”

Imagine taking this story you have, about being nothing special, about having nothing special to offer or to say, and setting it to one side, next to you, on the floor or on the couch. You can have the story back if you really, really want it. But just sit a moment, first, and notice how it feels in your brain and in your body, without the story of how negligible and meaningless you are.

While you’re still feeling that, think about the cool stuff that fascinates you, the activities and people that light you up. Think about how you can do more of that.

Then think about the stuff that feels heavy and smothering. The activities and people that make your heart sink. Think about how you can do less of that.

Nothin’? You really think you’ve got nothing?

You’ve got everything, babe. You’ve got the world.

“There will only be one of you for all time. Fiercely be yourself.”

I’ve got room for new one-on-one coaching clients right now, and I know, without knowing anything else about you, that you deserve to learn how to find and maximize that unique precious something that only you have to give and live.

Email me and let’s talk.

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