Most people have a very specific idea of what “greatness” is. It’s generally a very common theme that has been ingrained into our culture and society, especially in recent times. The idea that one is nothing unless he or she is a doctor, lawyer, entrepreneur, et cetera is being doggedly pushed by our parents, friends, random strangers on the internet, and everyone else. Everyone is saying the same thing, and unless you’re raking in millions and have a private jet then you are a massive failure and just need to dream bigger and work harder.
Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t pursue any of those professions. If that is what you want to do, then do it. The key here is desire. What matters is what you want not how much you should be making. The problem is nobody is asking you what YOU want to do.
How you want to save the world (or at least make it suck a little less.)
What inspires the cliché within you and makes you dance around the room scream-singing some made-up song at the top of your lungs.
What pulls you out of the darkness while the world tries to drag you kicking and screaming back in.
Instead, people are telling you what they want you to do. They say you must go to college, but they aren’t going to help you with that. They tell you that you should start a business like (insert some family member that you’re constantly getting compared to.) They ask you when you’re going to do the things that they want you to do so that they don’t have to be disappointed in you, and so that you don’t make them look bad.
What if I told you that you don’t have to be a doctor to be worthy, or an entrepreneur to contribute in a “meaningful” way? What if I told you that you are enough? That your dreams are worthy. That where you are now is meaningful. Even if you work at McDonald’s you are no less worthy than a CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
In a world where your parents and peers are disappointed in you (even though you may be perfectly happy and content with where you are and where you’re going) because you didn’t go to a wildly expensive school to become a lawyer or doctor, I’m here to tell you that their disappointment is totally meaningless and irrelevant. It is not the end of the world because someone else will always be a lawyer and a doctor. Leave that for the people who really want to be there. It is not worth putting yourself on the sidelines to pay thousands of dollars to become someone you were never meant to be. Everybody cannot be those things, and those aren’t the only things that matter. It’s okay to not want to sell a product either. The world doesn’t need any more trends and fads. We don’t need more garbage products to sell. What this world really needs is the skills, talents, and genius that you have to offer. Instead of selling you the American dream I want to sell you your dream.
The world can always use more poets, cooks, musicians, builders, educators, et cetera. The so-called “top” is not the only thing that matters. Passion and love for what you are doing matters. Money means nothing when you’re six feet under. It will just go somewhere else. The numbers in your bank account may all but disappear one day, but the number of people you inspired, touched, and influenced lasts for eternity. That number even multiplies when those you have inspired go on to inspire others.
Greatness doesn’t just mean how many expensive cars you have and how nice and big your house is; success is very subjective. One person’s idea of success is irrelevant to you unless you share that idea. If success to you means making someone smile, then all you must do is smile at a stranger. If they smile back, then you have already achieved your ideal for success and greatness. Success is a daily achievement rather than a one-time deal. It isn’t a competition. Figure out your definition and seek to fulfill it. It’s not always so complicated or difficult. It can be as simple as selflessly cheering up a room while you’re aching inside, or handing some cash to someone struggling. It can be writing a song, painting a beautiful picture, or building something. Simple things are great too. The pursuit of bigger and better will just leave a person more and more empty.
Don’t be afraid to be great and successful by your own guidelines.