Cynthia Maudine is a psychologist specialized in cognitive behavioural therapy who specialises in dealing with children
Today I travelled by tube during the rush hour. As the commuters came and went from the carriage, we were all homogenous, indistinguishable, part of the mass of humanity going about humdrum daily lives.
And there we have it.
Most of us are average people with our indistinguishable lives, yet there is a constant pressure to be so much more. To stand out, become something different, which is driven by everything around us. People with extraordinary lives are omnipresent on the news, in the advertising, on social media like Facebook and Instagram. We cannot escape them and wanting to be where they are.
Being visible and popular has become an obsession against which the rest of us average people with average lives are merely an annoying distraction, we do not command armies of admirers eagerly following our every move. The mere fact of existence becomes a struggle, never mind gaining attention for ourselves and becoming one of the ‘Incredibles’.
And slowly we transfer this desire ‘To Be’ to our children, praising every detail of their lives and making it into something extraordinary. Yet often the acts we praise are not extraordinary, they are common and simple. In praising these deeds and making them into something special, we create false self-expectations and offer rewards that have not been earned. This leads inevitably to disappointment and dissatisfaction and opens the door to the risk of mental illness.
Why is it so terrifying for most of us to remain invisible? Why is it so bad not to have a great job, not to have a beautiful body, not to be able to afford a great holiday or live in a wonderful house?
In the constant striving for popularity we risk losing our real identities. It becomes impossible to be ourselves because everywhere we see written the same message: ‘Change Yourself’ if you want to be successful, if you want to have a happy life.
But we have a choice, it is a choice to choose the fights we want for our lives.
If you choose to fight for being an extraordinary person, trust me on this, you have already lost the fight.
You may shine for a moment in one small aspect of your existence, but at the cost of making yourself miserable in so many other ways.
Yet constantly there is this ‘Sisyphean’ attempt at becoming what we are not. This status of striving ‘To Be’ cannot compare to what it really means to have somebody truly carry your name in their heart.
Having honest and profound relationships is the most visible and caring way of being alive.
I am reminded of the greeting between the people of Pandora in the movie Avatar – “I see you”. For me it is saying: “I see your feelings, and your thoughts”.
And when you see me, you bring me into existence. It is this more than any social media or news spotlight that makes each and every one of us visible and extraordinary.