On my drive home I was listening to a story about young voters on NPR. When I heard the intelligent, well-informed, confident voices over the speaker, I realized with a jolt that these are not people to admire. No, these are my competitors; these are my peers.
And suddenly everything felt impossible. I’m not capable of making a difference in the world. Images of myself as a fat Walmart employee with gray hair flashed into my mind. Or simply bumbling through life without direction for a greater good.
The voices on the radio held starkly different depictions in my mind. They appeared as confident, healthy, passionate young professionals, making their mark and touching lives. They seem to move through life guided by some inherent skill set.
Where did they obtain such direction? A congenital blessing? Pure determination? Values instilled in them by their parents?
The vast majority of the world population will not go on to make what I few as a significant difference in the world. It could be argued that how they effect people close to them is significant. In that way, groups can make a collective difference. That is not the change I think of when I look jealously at professionals and competent people.
I worry that my yearning to impact peoples’ lives is simply a narcissistic wish for admiration. I have not found any way to reconcile that concern. Beyond that, the idea that this want is simply a product of socialization to perpetuate the species is oddly vexing.
Why can’t I make a difference in the world? The answer of course is that I can, but fear of failing and my certainty about my incompetence clouds the path. There are many noble causes to pursue. If I can set aside my self-deprecating thoughts, the piece that is missing is passion. How do I want to help people? What is important and what will be most significant?
These are the questions that currently plague me. A welcomed plague as they are more utilitarian and tangible than my past ruminations about intentions behind relationships, my conclusions of which I have mostly come to terms with.