In his book, “The Practice, Shipping Creative Work,” Seth Godin wrote something that I just had to reflect on. It touched a nerve and revealed things about myself that I need to confront. Here’s what he wrote,
“The same instinct to match whatever narrative is dominant pushes us to fit in instead of to stand out. It amplifies our fear at the same time it diminishes our contribution.”
Just take some time to ponder that comment. First, there is an instinct that pushes us to fit in. Narratives playing out around us. We tend to gravitate toward the one that holds most people in its grip. When we allow ourselves to melt into the dominant narrative, our fear is front and center, and our impact on the world shrinks.
I’ve seen this principle play out in my life so many times. Frankly, it is embarrassing, and I know that my contribution to the lives of others and my own feeling of fulfillment have suffered greatly as a result.
So, I have to ask myself the question, “To what narrative am I acquiescing?” Furthermore, “From what narrative am I hiding? The very idea that there is a narrative that I am hiding from or seeking to escape is a clear indicator that I’m giving into fear.
Honestly, I don’t know the answers to those questions. Or, perhaps, I’m afraid to put them in print! But, I know that I need to answer them and not just once but multiple times in my life. I also need to consider why I’m afraid to stand out. What am I afraid of? Failure? Making someone mad? Being ridiculed?
That is such a negative perspective. Perhaps I should ask different questions when faced with the option to blend in or stand out. What good might happen if I risk entering the minority narrative? How might my own life improve if I risked standing out instead of hiding? If I risk all the things I fear, might I actually make a difference in the world?
Godin says this about hiding. “It is pleasant.” And “…it leads to suffering a thousand small deaths.”
May I have the courage to change the title of this post to “I’m afraid to hide” and stop suffering a thousand small deaths?