I’ve never faced that many hardships or doubts. In every area of life, I’ve always stood out near the top or at least stayed somewhere in the middle of the pack. I’ve never been the kid that no one wanted to pick in basketball. I’ve never been the kid bringing down the test averages for a whole class. I’ve never been the kid that didn’t fit in and stayed out of everyone’s way. The most resistance I’ve ever faced in my entire life came from when I decided to opt out of college. And that wasn’t exactly brutal by any means.
This can all sound like a good thing but after speaking with a friend last night, I believe it can be one of my greatest weaknesses. Having a chip on your shoulder is a very powerful motivator for people. Something happens to us when we hear that we can’t do something.
It’s a primal desire to prove our haters wrong. That’s an overused term but we thrive from this. I know for myself, someone doubting me gets me more motivated than something encouraging me. When someone tells me it’s unrealistic to think I can get a good job without a degree, I get excited. I can’t wait to grin at those same people in a matter of months.
If you don’t have anyone doubting you, it just feels like you’re supposed to succeed. This encourages a couple of bad habits. First, it makes people think they can get by without working as hard. When you’ve been told that you’re amazing your entire life, you start to believe it and think you can just do things better and faster than other people.
The second problem is more personal to me. Because people have always assumed I would do pretty well in life I sometimes feel like I can get away with more. I hadn’t ever really thought about this until last night but it’s been true in many different areas of my life. I thought I could get away with talking more during class. I thought I could show up a few minutes late for tennis practice. I felt like rules that mattered to others didn’t really apply to me.
Sure, I might get in a little bit of temporary trouble but nothing that couldn’t be smoothed over or forgiven. It’s dangerous. I know this sounds a little ridiculous. Complaining about people liking and believing in me sounds a little perverse. But it is a real weakness especially since I do respond very well to people saying I can’t do something.
I’m currently in one of the rare situations where I am doubted. My friend helped me realize this was a special opportunity for me, one that I don’t get very often. I’m excited to see how I react. I know how I feel right now, I’m pumped. But what about six weeks from now? The challenge for me will be keeping that attitude consistent over the coming weeks. If I can focus on my goals over the next month and a half, I will have accomplished something wonderful and grown a ton at the same time.