“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” ~C.S. Lewis
I was talking to a mentor of mine several months ago, and they cut me off midsentence and said, “Zach, it sounds like you’re trying to be extraordinary. How about you just work at being ordinary?”
I paused then promptly broke into tears. Yep. Tears. Not ashamed to admit that.
Tears because the meat of the conversation was about self-worth and being enough. In that moment my deepest childhood wound was tapped into, and ordinary sounded horrible to me.
Who wants to be ordinary? Not this guy.
My mentor asked what was coming up for me, and I said my mom. Let me explain.
My mom was a celebrity. She was an Emmy award winning actress that was on the cover of TV Guide, and she dated one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.
She died tragically of cancer when I was three-and-a-half years old. One day she was there, the next she was gone.
I interpreted her death the only way I knew how: I made up a story to make sense of it all. Mom left me because I’m not special.
Ever since then, for as long as I can remember, the thought of being ordinary hasn’t agreed with me. Like a taboo subject, I’ve treated ordinary like something society considers a no-no. To me, ordinary equals “not enough,” and not enough equals rejection, aka, abandonment.
In my mind…
Ordinary doesn’t get me love and affection. Ordinary doesn’t get me Facebook or Instagram “likes.”
Ordinary doesn’t get me acknowledged at work. Ordinary isn’t talked about at parties.
Ordinary isn’t interesting. Ordinary is abandoned just like when I was as a little boy.
The thought of being ordinary scares the you-know-what out of me. So much so that I’ve spent most of my life trying to be something more.
It’s been an insatiable quest to fill an empty cup of not enough-ness. It’s been me putting on a mask every day and trying to be someone else.
My hair has to look just right out of fear of you judging me. I have to say all the right things out fear of sounding stupid.
I have to wear the right outfits because I only have one chance to impress you. I have to be the ultimate people pleaser or else you might not like me.
I have to be extraordinary out of fear of you rejecting and leaving me. I’ve been afraid all these years that if you knew the real me, the ordinary me, you would turn around and go in the other direction.
Note to self. Hustling for my worthiness all these years has been exhausting.
And here’s the kicker. The act of me trying to be something is what keeps me alone in the first place because I’m not letting anyone see the real me.
The definition of ordinary is normal. It doesn’t mean rejected or not enough. Just normal.
In other words, it’s me being my normal self and not trying to be something else. Ordinary is authentic. Yet for some of us being authentic doesn’t feel safe. So we put on a mask and try and be someone else.
It’s what our culture does to us and social media glorifies. Status is such a big thing in our lives today.
But when you try to be something other than your ordinary self, whatever you’re attracting isn’t real because it’s not the real you. You’re not attracting real love or adoration.
Therefore, you keep looking and you continue the cycle. Once you change your mind about this (and yourself) you will see change.
Look, I get it. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the stories we tell ourselves. I need to be (you fill in the blank) to be liked and loved.
But here’s the thing, when we do this, we show up differently in life. People don’t want to be impressed, they want to be understood.
At the end of the day this was all about me being disconnected from my own inner wisdom. My inner wisdom is the core of my essence, and I was disconnected from this when I was on the call.
When we try and be something we forget who we are and what love is. Ordinary is your return to love. It’s not you out there looking for love.
It’s a return to what you were born in to. It’s like a return to grace.
Here are four questions that I have found to be extremely helpful in shining a light on this subject:
- Where in your life do you feel like you are struggling to be extraordinary?
- Where in your life do you want to apply the healing balm of normalcy?
- Where are you putting pressure on yourself to be extraordinary?
- Who are you comparing yourself to?
If you want to explore this area of your life, in a very human and grounded way, journaling around these questions might serve you, if you’re open to it.
Put down the weight of extraordinary and be your beautiful, ordinary self. Extraordinary people exist within people with the most ordinary lives.
We’re all unique in our own right and that’s the beauty of being human. We’re all ordinary and we’re all extraordinary.