The world has gone to the point where all you can hear is that everyone has to be special, has to have some extraordinary qualities, some unique abilities, and the message is pretty harsh that if anyone doesn’t, there is no place for them in this world. In addition, they always use some spectacular character trait as an example, because being special is not a big deal; everyone has to see it. But what if someone is not special in this sense at all, or even, although it is dangerous to describe them as such nowadays, but is, let’s say, an ordinary person? And where does this battle of the great special/not-so-special lead in one’s private life, at work, or in sport?
Being special is a good thing
I’ve had many good teachers in my life, but growing up in a democratic, free culture, the guiding principle that has stayed with me is that there are two steps to success, happiness, and wealth. The first is to find my special gift because, without it, I don’t stand much of a chance in the face of enormous competition. Then the second step is to learn to show it outwards, preferably to everyone. Moreover, all the techniques for doing this are really based on outward communication, which means that I have to present my special skills theatrically, if possible in a loud way, throughout my life. If I want to achieve anything at all. I realised very early on – maybe around my teens – that I wasn’t really a person with any conspicuous unique abilities. Generally speaking, I could achieve really good results in almost any subject, but I never really excelled at one, although it was enough to keep me at the top of my class. But it was strange to find that, even though I had finished at the top of my class, several times, I was not the one who was usually talked about or remembered. Despite my considerable academic success, I always felt a bit “unnoticed” by others. But the one who was only good in, say, maths, but who was truly exceptional at that, even if he sometimes failed in the other subjects, was considered by everyone to be the star. I was always among the best in school tests, but that was not enough to be visible. I had very similar experiences in sports. I took up several sports, and no amount of overconfidence would tell me that, but there wasn’t really anything that I couldn’t do at a relatively good level. However, what I said about studies was true here too. I was able to achieve a good overall result in everything; when it came to the whole year’s performance, I was always among the best, but when it came to showing my skills in a particular competition, I could not excel. I started to come to terms with my own abilities, that I was just that kind of person who couldn’t show any extra results.
I’ve been relatively accepting of myself, but I’ve always heard it said everywhere around me that if I’m not special in something, I’m finished. So, looking back on my life, I started to impose different characteristics on myself in order to succeed. I gathered friends around me, friends who, of course, were not friends in the true sense of the word. I always tried to be the centre of the group, and I was very happy when I succeeded. I was happy because people didn’t really care about me very much, so I was grateful for all the attention. Then I found myself at the beginning of my career. My whole day is booked up; I just don’t have time. I’m making good progress at work, I have a lot of colleagues who care about me, and my job is very important; I’ve become indispensable. I have also been married for several years, so I have proved to my teachers, society and the whole world that I am a very special person! But it was interesting because when I was alone, I felt very lonely. I drank a lot of alcohol, which I could always explain away, of course, because there was always something to celebrate. I had to take pills to sleep, and of course, I had serious illnesses in my life, and I couldn’t say that I was healthy even in appearance. Is that what special people are like? Is that the price of being special? Is it worth it? I asked myself question after question. But when I found myself talking about my marriage, my life, to strangers, even after a few minutes of getting to know them, just because they really listened to me, they were interested in my life, it became quite clear what I already knew deep down: my life was on the wrong track! But what could I do about it? Not much! After all, I couldn’t talk to anyone about my thoughts because my whole life was built on the ideal of a bustling, successful career and an enviable marriage. Yet I couldn’t stand in front of my wide-smiling acquaintances and talk about it; I couldn’t spoil the party. Of course, I now see that I was running away from home, running away from my life, and I was probably not alone in this, as behind all the fantastically beautiful smiles, there were many others with similar challenges. The spectacle of each other gave me the strength to push on for a few more weeks. And there was no turning back from this merry-go-round.