Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The dangers of outgrowing yourself

"Don't get too grown for your britches." As a kid, I heard that line from my parents a lot, but I didn't quite understand it. Their words never really sank in through my "hard head" until I was an adult, and to this day, I still have to recall this bit of wisdom in certain times. Back then, it wasn't just my parents that drilled me with this truth because my neighbors and every other adult who cared made sure to let me know. In my opinion, one of the biggest problems that I'm seeing in today's world is that most of us are so focused on ourselves instead of others that we're starting to outgrow our own "britches" and our selfishness and conceit is slowly destroying the things we are trying to build.

Granted, most people, especially self absorbed people, never want to hear that their own egos are hurting them. There is no better example of this self-destructive behavior than the "self-made" man or woman. Just the term "self-made" gives me visions of a grown person throwing a tantrum about what they've built, what they've done, the success they've had, what they're not going to do, and if someone doesn't like what they're saying, they're willing to "take their ball and go home". The "self-made" people are quick to "toot their own horn" while successfully ignoring and denying the contributions of every other person beside and behind them that helped push them to success.

The "self-made" attitude only leads to an unfortunate and unnecessary outcome...solitude. See, alone time is great to get away from the maddening crowd and recharging your batteries, but solitude is putting yourself on an island away from anyone who could help you. A tree needs the sun, water, dirt, and carbon dioxide to live and to grow. If you take away one of those elements, the tree will ultimately die, and just like a tree, the more people you take away from one person, the less chance they have to grow, until they face an inevitable end...death. Even if that death is just in the figurative sense, the dreams, desire, and future success of the "self-made" individual die without people watering and illuminating them.

One thing that is almost as cancerous to success as abandoning outside assistance is having the wrong kind of people around you. No person is right 100% of the time, but if you are surrounded with the kind of people that put you on a pedestal, and acquiesce to your every word, then your growth is again stunted. When a tree is growing in an undesired way, it becomes necessary to prune the tree so that it can properly grow. And in the same fashion, when our words or actions are detrimental to our desired outcome we need people around us who are willing to "prune" or talk to us to let us know that we're straying off course. These yes men aren't willing to do that for us which can only lead to wild and overgrown egos.

The last problem that can only destroy us is that in our pursuit to become a better version of ourselves, we become people that are foreign to everyone that knows us. Self-improvement is a great and necessary thing, but in a world of plastic surgery and fake personas, many of us do anything we can to be someone we're not. Speaking from my own experience, I've tried to create images of myself that I thought others wanted to see, and I've even gone so far as to create an entirely different life than my own online. I eventually had to come to the sober truth that living lies and running from who you are only causes you to lose yourself. The more time you spend trying to reinvent yourself, the more time you'll spend trying to "get in touch" with this new you. You were born with an unique personality and you were raised in a certain environment; and since this can never be changed, instead of reinvention, seek to improve yourself.