There is a joy in relinquishing pride. It inspires discovery in every form.
As I journey on my life path, I have come to terms with a few of my flaws, one of them being pride. I am not the type to look down on others. In fact, I often admire the many differences between individuals. Instead, my pride exposes itself through entitlement. I am a singer-songwriter, and activities in the scope of creativity always felt like they came easily to me. So for some time I thought as though I did not have to work as hard as others to get a project done. What a completely debilitating way to be, right? It’s a little embarrassing to expose such a deep secret, but I believe that in digging into ourselves and taking ownership for all that we are, we can become more whole.
Don’t we all have something that we believe we are exceptionally gifted or talented in? Whether it be in the creative arts, calculations, public speaking, business administration or politics, there is something we pride ourselves in doing extremely well. I‘ve been singing for as long as I remember, and I felt that I knew everything about singing when I was growing up. Sometime around my senior year of high school I learned how wrong I was. I auditioned all over the northeast region of the U.S., and do you want to know what I discovered? At every audition, there were at least 10 other vocalists who had been singing just as long as me, and their mastery seemed to be light-years ahead of mine. I might have had 18 years under my belt, but I was in no way a master. This experience made me realize that everybody always has more learning to do.
I can always grow and there is always something else to learn, something beyond my scope that I can reach for.
Instead of holding on to the idea that I was an expert, I embraced a new way of being, one that I try to practice as often as possible: I can always grow and there is always something else to learn, something beyond my scope that I can reach for. When I approached learning with an attitude of entitlement, I denied myself any opportunity of growth or connection with others. It simultaneously limited a deeper connection to who I was and who I was wanting to become.
I discovered that the practice of being the forever-student has so many benefits. First, I shook myself free of the need to be right or the most knowledgeable. In this freedom, the pressure of performance turned into an excitement for exploration; I was able to go forward with what I do know, laugh at what I do not, and ask questions about what I can do better. Second, practicing a forever-student mindset opened me up to learning in every aspect of life. Books, podcasts, off-hand conversations with strangers, and even failed relationships all spoke to me in ways that propelled me to grow.
Would we be more open to engaging with different opinions? Would we carry ourselves with more humility and treat others with more respect?
This practice helped me let go of entitlement and pride. As I did, there was a release. The subtle anxiety of needing to be right or perfect was gone. When I practiced guitar because I had to be good, I felt frustrated when I did not see improvement, so much so that I would stop playing and maybe walk away from it for a time. When I practiced the guitar simply because I love music and wanted to explore what else I could do, the failures I experienced became less negative because they added to the overall positive experience of growing with the instrument. I played for hours, I sang along, I smiled. As my perspective changed from what I knew to what else I could learn, my work and growth became a fluid and dynamic cycle of progression.
There is a joy in relinquishing pride. It inspires discovery in every form. What holds us back from this is ourselves, for we must actively choose to approach life as the forever-student rather than as the specialist or expert. Beyond the individual benefits, I wonder how this practice could influence how we interact with one another. Would we be more open to engaging with different opinions? Would we carry ourselves with more humility and treat others with more respect?
How many times a day do you ask yourself, Am I doing what is necessary for me to grow? I’ll be honest – I usually don’t. Most days, that question doesn’t even cross my mind. But it seems to me there is so much more for us if we live life as students. Today, I hope to learn. And I invite you to do the same.
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