I’m 29 now, not old by any means but I spent most of my teens and 20’s believing that somehow I’ll be rich and famous that I’ll do something that matters in the world. I’ll be remembered, I’ll burn brightly and I’ll party and I’ll make a difference.
And then, without thinking about it really, I started to accept that I probably won’t do anything of great significance, I probably won’t get to star in Hollywood films or get to host my own television talk show. I probably won‘t get to hang out with all the famous people I idolized and I probably won’t get to sleep with beautiful actresses or smoke weed with Seth Rogan and James Franco.
I’ve slowly come to accept that mediocrity in some sense is essential. People go to school, work, raise kids, and retire. Or society falls to pieces. If everyone were Tom Cruise, David Beckham, or even one of the bloody Kardashans then nothing would get done.
I sometime think that people would be happier if they didn’t want to feel special. I don’t think it’s human nature. I think people want to feel like they belong. They want to be respected equally with their peers. The times I’ve been most happy are not those when I’ve been revered as the smartest or fittest in the room, but the times where I’ve been equal.
Unfortunately, our culture is that of hero worship, individualism and disproportionate reward that relies on those at the bottom believing they will soon be rich and famous. If we got rid of the myth that everyone can be a hero, and recognize that everyone is a hero.
It hardly takes more courage to be Brad Pitt than it does to be a school teacher or an charity worker on minimum wage. Yet we celebrate and reward the Kardashians while maintaining the cultural stereotype that those in poorly paying jobs somehow deserve it. That we presumably don’t need cleaners, nurses, and manual labourers. All the meaning a human being needs is that of being valued by their peers. And yet we create a culture which devalues the most important people, and overvalues many of the least important. And then you question why life can sometimes feel meaningless. We support a system in which there’s no inherent meaning. We are just a replaceable unit of labour. Not a human being who should be nourished and grown into something equally as valuable as the rest.