When faced with problems, as humans we like to knee-jerk a hundred eighty degrees in the opposite direction.
Faced with vanity and self-obsession, we like to condemn good looks.
Faced with greed and hedonism, we like to condemn financial success.
Faced with sloth and incompetence, we like to condemn relaxation.
Faced with overwork and exhaustion, we like to condemn work.
Of course, this doesn’t really make any sense. It’s never accurate to judge one swing of the pendulum by the extent of the counter-swing.
In this maelstrom of polarities and counterpoints, society has developed into relying almost entirely upon ad hominem attacks. We are no longer judging the usefulness of a thing by the thing itself, but by who does it.
It is clear that being in peak physical fitness is a good thing. You cannot sit a group of honest doctors down and have them deny that being fit is better than being unfit.
I, myself, am not in peak physical fitness. Nowhere near where I should be. But I can’t deny the reality: it would be better to be more fit.
Now, what I do with this reality is my choice. I could eat better, work out more (let’s be honest…I don’t work out at all) and in general build myself a more healthy physical lifestyle that will undoubtedly pay dividends in the future.
But what I can’t do is pretend that I am Adonis, peak fitness god, replete with bronzed muscles and a six-pack of abs.
And what I can’t do is lambast those who are Adonis.
Good for them. They have done something I have not been able to achieve.
Why are we so uncomfortable with the idea of some people being better at things than us?
I am not the smartest person in the world. Neither am I the most financially successful, emotionally literate, eloquent, mechanically proficient, mathematically proficient, dexterous, or fashionable person in the world.
There are people better than me — at all of these.
Maybe it’s genetic, maybe it’s luck, maybe it’s circumstantial, maybe it’s earned, maybe it’s a fluke. Who cares?
Why, then, should we shame ourselves of both our accomplishments and our failures?
Why, then, do we not strive to simply accept where we’ve started, and change things from this baseline?
I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed. But I can always sharpen myself.
Likewise, just like we have become shamed into being uncomfortable with our failures, we are uncomfortable with our successes.
Got a good job? Smarter than average? Good at socializing? Got a beautiful face? Whiz at numbers? Started a successful business? Set a mountain biking record?
Why can we not embrace these strengths, as well, and refuse to be shamed for success?
A rising tide floats all boats.
Yet as you stand out for various successes, you will find that there is a demonization of your success. It comes in various forms, spurred by various motives, but one of the most insidious is that you didn’t earn it.
Your mom loved you — that’s why you’re emotionally stable.
You’re naturally beautiful — that’s why a doctor married you.
You grew up middle-class — that’s why you understand budgeting.
You had a tutor — that’s why you got a university scholarship.
You are naturally handsome — that’s why you always have a date.
It is my hope that everyone can eventually craft that privilege for their progeny. Our grandmothers grew up with dirt floors and outhouses. That was the norm — and now it’s a museum.
Never let someone shame you for the good things in your life.
Spread those good things further, and help raise the tide for the world.