Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Do You Choose to Be Ordinary?

Monkey here:

Life can be hard. Especially if you are chasing your dreams. We've been told that following our dreams is the hard route - we're supposed to just grow up and work crappy jobs and get married and have kids and then retire and call it a life. So we struggle with our ambitions and our reality, with what we hope for and what we see in the immediate future. Thus, for a great majority of us, life is hard. It beats us up at times, kicks us in the ribs, and then makes fun of us. It is not an easy road ahead for those that dare to follow their dreams.

The truth of the matter is that most people aren't going to reach their full potential and aren't going to achieve their life-long goals. For a whole crapload of reasons, they're not going to make it. They're going to settle for being ordinary, with ordinary lives and if they're happy with that, great for them. Don't get me wrong - I don't think that there is anything wrong with giving up or being ordinary, as long as you make that choice. That choice isn't for me, but I don't hold it against anyone if they do choose to be ordinary. It is a very, well, ordinary life path to take.

But for those of us that can't stand to be at a job we don't love, for those of us that want to chase that dream, for those of us that want to achieve more than the average person, for those of us that want to do what we love for a living, this is unacceptable. If you're reading this, chances are you are one of these people who yearn for something more.

Now, I truly believe that people are amazing and there is almost unlimited potential locked away in each and every one of us. Granted, it's harder for some of us to get to that potential than others, and some of us have had more help than others too. However, we all have the potential to reach our goals - but it's a choice we have to make.

We have to choose to be exceptional, or to be the outlier. We have to bust our asses to be extraordinary. There might be a few geniuses out there, but we have to come to terms that we aren't one of them. And neither is the rest of the 99.9% of the population. If you weren't born with some amazing, near-superhuman talent that less than 1 in 1 trillion people have, you're not a genius (plus, you wouldn't be reading this). Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Walt Disney. All these guys were not geniuses. They practiced longer, they worked smarter, they failed and tried again and again and again and they never gave up. They asked for help when they needed it and forged a path no matter how bruised or beaten or tired they were.

The point is that when it comes down to it, we all have a choice to make. Do we decide to be the hero in our own stories or are we just going to be a supporting character? Do we decide to settle for what's familiar and safer or do we risk it and go for something frighteningly unfamiliar and new? Do we let the opportunities pass us by or do we jump at them with all our might and damn whether or not we'll land safely?

Yes, choosing to be extraordinary is scary as all hell. While if you've met me at a craft fair or at an art show or at my gallery or wherever, I'm probably not the first person you think would be completely frightened by life. But I am. I'm actually scared of a lot of things. I'm scared of not measuring up to my own ridiculously high (often unrealistic) expectations I set for myself. I'm scared that my art isn't good enough and that no one will pay for my paintings and I'll forever be the stereotype of the starving artist. I'm scared that I'll get turned down from galleries or art studio jobs. I'm scared of calling people I don't know on the phone. But in the end, what I'm scared of most is that I'm going to be ordinary.

So I do the best I can any given day to try and prove my fears wrong. I've failed often, and I try my best each time to learn something and to actually change my behavior and actions in order to prevent myself from failing again. Like we've said before, failure isn't fatal, and it's part of the learning process, but I'd still rather succeed than fail any day.

Some days I end up choosing to be ordinary, and other days extraordinary. My own personal challenge is to push the scale towards the extraordinary. Which are you going to choose today?