Highlights and Shadows
I dreamed of a great life
I wished to be a tower on a hill
But the immediate path was hard
And failure had me at standstill
I believed in a better day
Looked to a great tomorrow
But expectations were dashed
And many were days of sorrow
Within the disappointments
Surrounded by loneliness
I discovered who I was
And found that I could bless
I’m giving a couple of talks in the next few days, one is this Saturday at a TedX event, and the other is at a “singles” event VCF Alabang. Given that people are so easily excited, it’s time for another “don’t be so easily impressed” post.
Here’s why: It’s stupid.
It’s stupid to look at someone’s highlights (like his social media posts, his talks, his writing, painting, and other public wins) and be impressed, without taking into account a person’s basic humanity.
It’s even more stupid to compare a person’s public highlights to our own personal shadows, the things we’re not so proud off, and even ashamed off. Let’s say we take all of Vince Carter’s slam dunks (he’s known for them) and compare them with Lebron James’ missed shots, lost games, and turnovers, we would mistakenly think that Vince Carter is a better player than Lebron James. He’s not. Get the point? When you’re easily impressed by the highlights, you forget that’s not the complete picture. There are things you’re not seeing. Like any great painting, that seemingly amazing person, is an interplay of highlights and shadows.
And so are you.
You are an interplay of highlights and shadows. You’re the person who doesn’t have a girlfriend at the moment AND you’re the person bootstrapping a future million Dollar company. You’re the person who was kicked-out of school AND you’re the person who is making that artistic masterpiece. I can go on, but the simple points are:
- Don’t be so easily impressed by someone’s highlights. That’s never the full story. There are shadows there too. And it’s not lying that they don’t post their shadows. That’s prudence actually.
- Don’t compare your life’s mundane-ness, failures, or shameful memories (your life’s shadows) to someone else’s highlights. You might just find they have more shadows. That’s what I’ve found.
- Don’t waste your time as a spectator in someone else’s highlights and shadows. That’s living vicariously. Be grateful for your highlights, learn from your shadows, and live your own life.
The person you idolize is a human (like you), takes a crap (like you), loses his temper (like you), worries (like you), gets tired (like you), gets impatient (like you), and does stupid things (like you).
Doesn’t spend his time living vicariously admiring someone else (unlike you). That’s probably the biggest difference. It’s not between lucky and unlucky, great and mere mortals, nor blessed and cursed. The difference is between those who take responsibility for their own life’s results and those who don’t.
I don’t like having fans. Maybe that’s why I rarely reply to them. Haha! They’re of no use to me. At best, they’re people to maintain, and at worst, they’re future crucifiers, such as what happened to Jesus. Those who praised Him, crucified Him. I like partners. I like people I can rely on. I like people I can work with, build with, people who can stand on their own enough to be useful to others. These are the people I reply to the most, the people I plan with, and execute with.
Don’t be fan. Don’t be mine. Don’t be anyone’s. Focus instead on your every day, and make your highlights and shadows count.