If I see myself as a burden, I probably won’t talk to you. When I see you, I’ll most likely think “oh, they must have so many interesting and fun people around them — they don’t need me taking up more space in their life.” To make sure I don’t bother you, I’ll avoid you.
Or maybe I’ll approach you, but I’ll carefully plan how I’m going to behave to ensure that you don’t see me as a burden or a waste of your time. Maybe I’ll make sure to mention how successful I’ve been at this or that, so that you know immediately that I’m “worth meeting.”
But if I see myself as a gift, talking to you will be the obvious choice. I’ll see you and think “I’ll give them the joy of connecting with me, and make both of our lives more fun.”
What’s more, if I have this mindset, I’ll be okay even if you don’t want to talk to me. Your rejection may sting, but it won’t shake my conviction that, in the grand scheme, my existence is a good thing for the universe.
The Same Goes For Creating Stuff
In my experience, whether I see myself as a gift or a burden doesn’t just affect the way I meet (or don’t meet) new people. It also has a big impact on how I approach my creative projects.
If I see myself as an imposition on people, I probably won’t write anything. Each time I come up with an article idea, I’ll talk myself out of writing the piece, thinking “so many people have probably written about this already — I’ll bet I’d just bore everybody.”
Or maybe I’ll write the piece, but I’ll try really hard to ensure that readers see how smart or original I am, and don’t see me as dull or average. Maybe I’ll use lots of big words, or take months to write my piece because I’ll constantly second-guess everything I say.
On the other hand, if I see myself as a gift, the act of writing will have a light, “flowing” quality to it, because I’ll be secure in the knowledge that what I’m creating will uplift somebody out there.
Being A Gift Is The First Step, Not The Last
Experiences like these have convinced me that the conventional wisdom about creativity in our culture has it backwards.
We tend to think that, if we want to “be a gift” to others — if we want to contribute something to the world — we have to create something really amazing. Once we’ve written that groundbreaking novel, we’ll finally become worthwhile.
The trouble is that, if we refuse to see ourselves as a gift until that great project is complete, the project will be painful and difficult to do. We’ll be constantly worried about putting out inadequate work and burdening or bothering people, instead of feeling excited about how we’re going to enrich others’ lives with what we’re doing.
So, I think that learning to see, and treat ourselves, as a gift to the world — even before we’ve “hit our peak” creatively — is crucial if we want to enjoy, and get a lot done in, our work.
With that said, I’ve got some more gifts to shower you all with. In my last post, I shared some of the videos I’ve been doing recently, and they sure provoked some interesting discussion. I hope the next four I’ll share in this post will do the same. Enjoy!