One post talks about my audacious writing goal for the year, and the other other talks about people who read 200+ books in a year, some with demanding life obligations on top of reading so much. I shared these posts in hopes that people would be inspired to challenge themselves to write or read more themselves, especially since we’re still in that jolly New Year spirit (which, let’s face it, I unashamedly love).
However, that is not the response I received.
Instead, people simply replied things like “I could never do that!” or “Those people are crazy/out of this world/insanely awesome” aka not like me.
And that is where I take up issue. Let me tell you a bit of a secret:
There is No Such Thing As a Super Human
Bam. Bolded. Right in your face.
It’s so easy to point at someone who is truly making things happen and assume they’re out of this world. We joke that they’re mythical creatures, or have gifts from the heavens, (I mean, I’ve totally done that) but somehow, sometime during those jokes, we start to internalize the idea that they’re different, that they must be made of something different than us normal folk.
Like, take for example, one author I’ve really come to admire these days: Victoria Schwab. My Twitter feed is constantly filled with people expressing their (all caps) love for her writing and her books. This lady finished her Master’s Degree, moved and lived in another country for a large portion of the year, wrote three books, and read 104 books in a year. (Yeah I don’t even know.)
Most people (including myself) take a look at those accomplishments and dismiss the idea that they could ever accomplish those goals. It’s impossible, right? So we dismiss the idea and go back to our daily lives, assuming that they’ve somehow managed to reach a level above us that we’ll never make it to.
Here’s the thing: they had to make it happen somehow.
Incredible people are just that- people.
I think we forget sometimes that we all started out the same way. Yes, obviously, people have access to different opportunities and have natural inclinations towards some things, but it’s important to remember that we’re all born as a blank slate.
Even the most famous of successes, from JK Rowling to Jennifer Lawrence (love those two ladies, just sayin’) all had a childhood, had dreams, both unfulfilled and fulfilled, made mistakes, faced failures. Just like us. They too dreamt of accomplishing their secret dreams, and they too had to work at it. They’ve been able to propel themselves to fame.
But before she made a billion dollars and became world renown for a series beloved to so many, JK Rowling still had to sit down in front of the computer, with only an inkling of a novel idea, and gradually let the words pour out of her, with no guarantee she would ever be published. Just like every person out there right now, staring at his or her blinking cursor in Word, wondering if it’s even going to be worth it. The successful people of our time grew up normal, have always been normal, have normal fears and doubts and ambitions.
We’re all just people.
It all comes back to doing the work.
Our lives are painted by our actions: what we choose to do, how we choose to respond to events in our lives, what we make of our emotions and our circumstances. Writers like Neil Gaiman are prolific because they made the choices to put themselves out there, to work on their craft for hours on end, and sure they got lucky sometimes, but they never would have gotten lucky if they weren’t writing in the first place. They chose to create their lives that way, and that’s the difference between us and the most successful people in the world. They did it. That’s how they made the jump from ‘ordinary’ to ‘incredible’.
We are ultimately responsible for our success.
The sooner we internalize that idea, the faster we’ll be able to get on track for our own lives. Even when life throws a terrible wrench in our plans, we can control how we react to that thorn in our side, to that derailed plan.
Blaming other people or saying that famous writers ‘made it’ because they got lucky is only going to hurt us in the end. If we take responsibility, we are enabling ourselves to become successful, whatever that term looks like for you, because now the ball is in our court, not someone else’s. And that means we now have the power to work for our dreams.
We need to re-evaluate our lives.
Instead of waving off those successful, ‘crazy’ hustlers who seem to have it all together, pause, and take a second to really evaluate what they’re doing. What do you like? What do you wish you could do?
Now take a look at your life. What are you doing now? What are the things that take up most of your time? What do you identify yourself as? (A writer, a librarian, a reader, a Netflix binger?). Most importantly: who do you want to become?
Now you have to think about bridging the gap. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but if you want to become a writer who also manages to blog three times a week, then you need to re-order your priorities. Take a look at the successful people and if you can, ask questions. What do they spend their time doing? What are they not doing? Maybe they don’t spend that hour watching Netflix; maybe they write instead. Absorb lessons and knowledge from what your role models are doing, and see what new practices you can implement in your own life.
Always try to learn from other people.
There’s so much knowledge, advice, and wisdom in the way other people are living their lives- and things like, I don’t know, the Internet, allow us to take a peek into other’s lives. Seeing a late night Snapchat of a major hustler is always motivating to me, because it never fails to show me that we are all just people working hard to realize our definition of success. And that success comes from working harder, from jumping to take opportunities, from putting ourselves out there.
We’re throwing away so much potential if we simply assume that we can’t do what other people are doing. Everyone is different, we all have our limitations, but never forget: we are all human.
It’s as simple and as complicated as that.
(Unless you’re some type of supernatural being reading this in the future. Then you have my permission to ignore this post.)
We put people on a pedestal, pretend they have so many innate qualities that make them successful, when really, success, in the end, comes down to pure hard work. And pure hard work is something any person, seriously, any person is capable of.
People are just people, no matter how many books they’ve written or how much money they have sitting in their bank, or how many Twitter followers they have.
So let’s go make those dreams happen, shall we?