What makes you special?
Tonight, my (almost) 7 years old daughter asked me: Tato*, what makes you special?
… pause …
As you can assume, I didn’t know what to make of it! When I asked her what she means by that, she told me that she thinks she is good at drawing, so that makes her “special” in her mind and she wants to know what is it that I am good at?!
This made me think — I did wiggle out of a straight answer, btw! — Am I so good at something that I feel special about it? What does being special mean, after all?
I know I am a unique person with own behavior, dreams and wishes for the future. I know that if someone looks hard enough they’ll find few things that make me different from the other 7 billion people on this planet — but that makes me as special as a zebra is special because of its pattern being unique among all other zebras and that is not what my daughter really meant!
No matter how hard I think about it, I don’t think I am able to point at anything and with some confidence or pride say, this is what I am really good at, this is what makes me special! I don’t believe “being good at something” is a state that should be measured, actually. I prefer “being better than last time” as that is what my passions make me strive for.
Thinking about this made me realize why I love learning so much — in fact, the best way to make me feel miserable is to take all learning opportunities away from me! I love learning because that makes me become a better person with each new experience! I should explain the “better person” part.
Learning often leads me into new territories where I feel uncomfortable because I know so little about. When that happens it almost feels like I am going back, but then I remind myself that it is only fair to compare my new understanding with my ignorance for the area before I stumbled upon it. And ignorance, contrary to the popular belief, is not a blissful state to be!
With ignorance, we let walls be built to limit our lives. In the short-term, it may feel like ignorance makes us happier, but it goes against our innate drive to be in control of our lives. The self that we’re is a complex package of fluffy stuff like emotions and feelings, hard to control desires and cravings, learned responses to social pressures and acceptable behaviors… When we ignore a part of who we are, I believe we become a lesser self! We’re no longer authentic and we play someone else’s role.
While I don’t know if I am good at it or not, I know I have found my passion in one thing — I want to empower others to be more of their authentic selves in their interactions with me! I would like to push people feel uncomfortable when they meet ignorance as I do, so they can learn and in return push me in a different direction to learn more. I need that feedback loop as my learning will be limited otherwise.
To do this, I see these three principles as important to me:
- Never settle for ignorance,
- Always be part of a change — instead of cheering or booing from the side, and
- Make my learning transparent — and expect others do the same in return!
I don’t know if these principles will make me special — probably not if special means different, since if you agree with me on them that would make two of us — but I know I won’t be bored for sure!
How about you, what makes you special?
* Tato – is how my two daughters call me (it means “dad” in Macedonian), regardless of the language they use with me