Sometimes being small is hard, especially in the beginning when your ego is still proud and swimming in a world where ego is often everything. Everything is a competition. Everything is measured against everything else. Everything is ranked and when you are small you are often found wanting. Measured and found wanting because you are not seen, because you’re small, in the shadows, quiet.
And it stings because you don’t understand what it means to be small yet. When I was young, I wept at perceived wanting. I remember coming in last place in a race at school. I was so crushed I sobbed. I remember that feeling as if it were yesterday. I didn’t want to be the best but I didn’t want to be the worst. I quickly learned I didn’t want to compete at all, and certainly not in competitions that were designed for people who were not small. Then I realized that competitions were rigid and rule bound and suffocating to the individual and crushing to the small. They were in affect exclusive. And so instead of being perpetually excluded I chose not to join, not to compete.
But even now when I do something that falls flat, that feeling from coming in last lingers in the background. My ego still traumatized by harshness of someone else’s expectations. But I know what that feeling is and I let it go. Most likely no one noticed my failing and if they did so what. My failing is just an obstacle to go around or through or over. Which is easier said than done. But if you are small and have embraced your smallness, you are used to obstacles, and know that obstacles are not failures, obstacles are life.
So it’s back to keeping an eye on that ego guy. Fuck that guy. Setting too much store in the meaning of an expected result. As if you have the ability to predict the results of such a complex system as life. You just have to do your best and learn to say “hmmm” when an unexpected result occurs. Unexpected results are often disastrous. But they are often wonderful as well. They often take you some place you couldn’t have imagined.
“Hmmm” is always a good way to assess a development. It’s like a mental trigger to pause, reflect and assess. Sometimes you think, well that didn’t go as planned. And then you think, well what are we going to do with that.
“Hmmm” makes people nervous though. especially people who think that results and outcomes can be well controlled and predicted. They view your uncertainty or your inability to predict accurately as a sign of weakness, as sign of incompetence, a sign of lacking confidence. People so want surety and want someone to tell them exactly how it will all work out. Which is complete nonsense. Anyone who professes so much confidence is providing you with false surety or an uninspired, rote solution.
And while my “hmm” may be vague and sound uncertain it is realistic and focused on what is currently knowable.
People often see small people as being unsure, timid, lacking confidence or conviction. They see our “hmmm” as an opportunity to say “aha, I knew you didn’t know.” And yes, perhaps I didn’t know. But neither did they.