I found this post in the middle of this week, which for me was tottering dangerously on the verge of creative chaos. It was the convergence of a number of creative projects accompanied by finally catching whatever virus seems to be floating around, and there was more than one time when I thought to myself "I've made a mistake by taking all of this on at once."
There is such power in watching someone else's fears and insecurities and frustrations dragged into the light of day. Even when this happens digitally, there is something about a human being saying "Me too. I have been there" that is balm for a weary, worried soul. When I saw this exchange between Miranda and his wife, I actually breathed a sigh of relief and said out loud, "Yes." Broadway sensation or artist with a day job, both of us are still playing according to the rules of what it means to be a human in the universe.
We get tired. We get discouraged. We wish we were better at whatever it is that we believe that we have come into this world to do. And the fact that someone else says "Me too" means that we are not alone. THIS is the powerful part.
True, to realize our commonalities with other people may feel like we are disillusioned about the ways in which we have always believed that we were different than everyone else (this kind of pressure to differentiate yourself as special in our society today can feel like an epidemic), but the other side of the coin? We aren't alone. We aren't the first and only and last people to feel this way. And for me, that is the ultimate comfort. I'm not special in that way. Thanks goodness.
There are many different takes on the idea that not one of us is "special", and for me, they range from slightly insulting to insightful. I used to bristle at this idea that no one is special, but the more I let it sink in, I truly do find it comforting. Motivating, even.
As my husband says, we are all "special" to other people in our lives and what we do matters, AND we are not "special" in terms of the rules of the universe. This distinction is important, because it's the difference between saying that no one and nothing is special and realizing that when it comes to fears, physics, and human nature, we are all on the same level.
I often think about this when I'm working on a creative project. Right now, I just closed performances of BIG WORK, my own play with The Perpetual Visitors Theatre Company, and I am in rehearsal for a lovely local production, Letters to Medford, with Two Roads Performance Projects. I am taking some much needed time to rest and recharge this weekend, and really starting to get those pre-opening night butterflies, in the best way. I adore this play, and I love working with this group of actors. The experience is both ordinary and very special to me.
I'm not special.
I'm not the only person who has ever put too much on my plate.
I am in good company with artists across the world and throughout time who have felt the pleasurable pull of sharing a story.
My fears of not being good enough or talented enough or creative enough are not special.
I'm not the first (or only or last) person in history to feel totally spent.
All of these feelings and fears and thoughts are valid and vital to me, AND we all feel this way from time to time.
Our emotional paths and creative walkabouts and deep dark fears all intersect with one another, all the time.
I'm not special in these ways. I don't have unique snowflake problems. Thank goodness.
As English teacher David McCullough, Jr. said in his famous "You're Not Special" Wellesley High School commencement speech to high school graduates in 2012, “Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.” In this, I find a certain kind of permission to be myself, however I might feel at this moment. I can put down these heavy expectations (much of the time self-imposed) that I have for myself to prove that I am "special".
What do you think--does this make sense to you? Do you find this idea insulting? Inspiring? I would love to hear your take in the comments below!