I was 7 years old and I had my nurses uniform on. It gave me a strange feeling of being able to help people in a special way. It’s very difficult to describe, even now, but it was a feeling of being able to love and give and heal, although I had no words for it at that age.
At 13 I knew with absolute clarity that I could do anything I wanted. It was just a question of wanting it enough. There was no doubt in my mind. I wasn’t aware of it fading but my teenage years crushed that confidence. I ended up virtually unable to identify what I wanted at all. I froze inside if people asked me questions about it.
In my late teens I discovered the wish to make a difference to the world. It was the beginning of a crusader streak that I inflicted on many people over the years. I passed through different phases of conviction, depending on what I was interested at the time. The key was that I had the answers and most other people didn’t. Not a very attractive phase.
Inside, all the time, was a deep desire to connect with a potential I could sense but not always articulate. I felt I was destined to do something special, as do so many of us, yet I could never put my finger on it.
Looking back I see a pattern in my search. All the images I had of myself in the future were heroic in a vague way, but it was a lonely kind of hero. I put huge pressure on myself to find the great thing I was supposed to do, but it was all about me, not about the other people I was heroically rescuing, saving or otherwise helping.
It’s a bit embarrassing to look back on it, but I find many people have that lonely hero urge inside. Sadly it causes a terrible sense of failure, because it’s hard to be a hero on your own. You end up feeling powerless, useless and it’s a struggle.
Yes, you need the courage to speak up, step out and do things differently from others, but if you can’t bring other people with you it’s not going to last for long.
There’s an energy in the air now that’s very different. It’s an energy of collaboration and sharing. Of people coming together as equals, not hierarchies, and creating solutions together. It’s a recognition that we each hold one of many parts that will fit together to create a different world and not one of us has the entire blueprint, or even a large piece of it.
This challenges our education which was all about individual achievement, personal vision and exclusion of others. These habits are deeply ingrained and I still feel inadequate at times because I didn’t reach some external notion of isolated success that’s not even plausible or possible. It’s just a vague image I have of the person I “should have been.”
Thank goodness it didn’t work out that way for me.
Life has been far more interesting than it “should have been.” I couldn’t even have dreamed of many of the things I learned and experienced in the last 30 years. Who would have thought that awkward clever schoolgirl would end up studying with a Chinese master for many years? Or that self righteous twenty something would end up having to give up her opinions over and over again in her search for meaning and connection in life?
And even 12 months ago, who would have imagined I would be teaming up with other people who (possibly) also had the lonely hero inside, so we can discover how to change the game together.