It’s so easy to get caught up in the task of our goals that we completely forget about the reasons we set out to do them in the first place. The closer we get to success the more demanding the task becomes, to a point where we can completely lose sight of the true meaning behind the things we do. With the lost of this meaning, comes the lost of the drive; and with the lost of the drive comes the lost of the ability. The lost of the gift makes us unique, that voice which people admire and look up to. Some would even call it, the light within our souls that we extend out through our gifts to light the souls of others. Years ago, before I lost sight of why I set out to become a storyteller, I wrote a blog on the ego and how easily it can ruin our lives. I suppose this is somewhat of a continuation of that.
Selfishness is like a virus that shows no symptoms until it’s too late. When you’ve spent your whole life fighting for a single goal and having dozens of failures, at some point in your journey your ego sets in.
“Life can be hard, and a healthy ego is genuinely a defense mechanism that operates at an unconscious level and helps to ward off unpleasant feelings that would lower our self-esteem.”
--Freud, A. (1937). The Ego and the mechanisms of defense
Now imagine going through many years failures in life and due to those humble meanings behind your motivations, you know that you can’t give up no matter what. With every single failure comes the feeling of hopelessness and low self-esteem, until our ego swoops in and saves us from feeling bad about ourselves. If reminders us that we are not worthless and we do have the ability to succeed as long as we don’t give up, because after all, Rome wasn’t built in one day.
(However, according to myth Rome was built on murder and rape. I know that’s a horrible fact for this kind of blog but I feel it’s a reason people should stop using the analogy of Rome not being built in one day. Because several days of murder and rape are much worst than one.)
So after many years of our egos constantly building up our spirits after every single fall, and us refusing to give up on our goals eventually something happens to us. Something in our minds click and succeeding is no longer about the humble meanings behind our task but solely about the idea of succeeding in general. The more our egos tell us that we can do it, the more we’ll want to do it for the sake of proving that thought right; first to our peers and eventually to ourselves. And that is the very moment when our selfishness begins to strengthen and causes us to put aside the care we have for everything, leaving only our goals in our sights.
To quote my most recently finished book.
“Nothing is more selfish than spending your entire life chasing a dream.”
-God of War
Selfishness can be something we don’t realize we have until we’ve lost everything and everyone in our lives. It’s the thing we try so hard to justify having without actually admitting what it is. We like to disguise it as ambition and use that as an excuse to do whatever we want without conscience. We blame out past; our upbringings and struggles. We blame our revivals and at times even our friends for the misfortunes brought on by our own selfish actions, because our egos will never allow us to admit the truth.
It wasn’t until very recently that I realized exactly how selfish I had been these past couple of years in my life. When I set out to become a storyteller, I wanted to do it to inspire people. I grew up in a broken world and through my writing I wanted to bring all of the flaws I had seen and the pain I had experienced to light. I wanted to light the way and inspire others. I wanted to help people overcome their own struggles and pains. But somewhere within the past fifteen years I had lost sight of the meaning behind my goals. I had pushed everyone away and sacrificed everything I had because at some point I decided that I was going to succeed no matter what. Despite my failures I was going to complete the goal I set out to accomplish when I was a kid, not matter what I had to do, I was going to do it.
Eventually that became my only reason to go on and it got to the point where I found myself leaving everything else behind. Unintentionally at first, but I stopped visiting my family, spending time with my friends, caring about any material things, I even stop caring to find a stable job. My excuse was always, “When I finally made it, than I would worry about the rest.”
Looking back on it now, I can see why I lost everything and everyone in my life. Yes, I can actually say that the career I set out to accomplish is finally starting to kick off with the completion of my first feature. But to quote another one of my writing, a poem I wrote years ago.
“You look back on your life, your deeds big and small;
Then question yourself, was it worth it at all?”
-- The Hat Man
True Selfishness is a cancer that slowly destroys every aspect of your life. Rather its worth in the end is solely up to you. How important are your goals and how many sacrifices are they worth. The best thing I can do right now is to continue on my current path, while trying my best return my sight to the true meaning behind my goals. Which is why I decided to start blogging again.
A work of art created for yourself can never be as beautiful as one created for someone else. Selfishness will always diminish the value of a creation, because it robs the artist of the passion and will to create it in the first place.
My advice on how to avoid reducing your ego:
The ego is driven by our own pride. So find pride in your work from others. Seek advice, brainstorm be open to criticism, mainly from someone who cares about you.
Allow yourself reflection time, don’t just jump from one thing to the next until you find something that works. Take an extended break, go on a vacation have a drink allow yourself time to replenish your emotions before repeating.
Find a mentor or an idle. Someone who you can look up to for advice, some one who has been where you are and can help you to move forward. It can be someone you know personally or even if it’s someone who you don’t know but follow their career.
And finally, the thing that my pride never allowed me to do, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Thanks for reading.