If there’s one piece of popular philosophy that annoys the shit out of me it’s the whole ‘Anything is possible’ thing.
I know it’s supposed to be uplifting and inspiring but I call ‘bullshit’. You and I both know it’s simply not true. By definition it literally can’t be.
I’d pondered this for many years across all the writing and speaking I’d done before eventually creating my own alternative: ‘Awesome is possible’. This sat much better with me. Sure, there are some things we may not be capable of (the list is long for me!), but there’s always something awesome I can do. The expression of possibility resonates with me, and inspires me more knowing it’s not just lip service but actually true. Actually possible.
I toyed with this thought for quite some time before this year launching an event I called ‘Awesome August’. The concept was simple: Do something awesome in August and get the medal to prove just how awesome you are. A bit like when people run races and get a medal at the end. The rules were simple: there were no rules. In fact, the theme was ‘Awesome Unlimited’ and the two core foundations were ‘Make your own rules’ and ‘Live beyond expectation’.
The truth is, I wasn’t sure if anyone would actually even ‘get it’, but get it they did. We had people swimming, running, walking, sleeping (yes, really!), studying more, try surfing, purchasing less activewear, recovering from cancer… the list went on. My hope had been that people would truly disconnect from the expectations of what they thought was ‘awesome enough’ to consider themselves awesome. Some struggled with it, and even emailed me to say “I can’t think of anything awesome enough that deserves of a medal”. Which was a bit shit, because it meant they’d missed the whole point and were judging themselves by expectations and standards that made them feel less than. And bugger that.
Please know, I’m not really a fan of the modern day ‘every player wins a prize’ mentality. I think it’s important, critical even, to push and strive, learn and grow, dream and just generally be more and better than we were yesterday. But I’m also a fan of feeling good enough in the meantime. In the now. Of living in that paradoxical place where we’re happy being who we are – and trying to be better than we are. Where we are happy with the things we’ve already achieved and want to achieve more. Being happy with the things we’re capable of, and striving to be capable of more. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t yet live in that place. Like most of us, I’m still working on it. I constantly feel less than. I constantly suffer from ‘imposter syndrome’. Feeling like my adventures aren’t really as adventurous as that person’s adventures. My photos aren’t as good as that person’s photos. Hell, I even suffer it writing for this magazine. Every issue I see someone who I think or even know writes better than me. Chooses better topics. Uses more beautiful language. Who the heck am I to be writing and sharing ideas with you when there are better, smarter more articulate people than me out there? It’s brutal.
For all the barriers put in our way by others, I’m pretty sure the greatest obstacle in our paths to being really happy are our own rules and expectations. Sure, some of them are learned courtesy of what goes on around us – for men right now ‘toxic masculinity’ is the buzz-phrase, and arguably the reason we are killing others and ourselves in horrifically increasing numbers. But ultimately it’s us that gets to decide whether we continue to live by those rules; those expectations. Or change things up, and be different. Better.
It’s us that gets to disconnect from the stuff we’ve inherited and learned along the way, and reconnect with who we really are. I have to say, I’m not really into all that fluffy, cosmic ‘the universe will provide’ malarky, but I do happen to believe that we’re so busy being connected to anything and everything and everyone, we’ve forgotten to be connected to the most important thing of all: ourselves. Not the utopian image of ourselves we have and think we should be, but our actual, truest, purest selves. Before all that other stuff gets in the way.
For me personally, it’s only when I’m out there, maybe hiking, running trails, on the open road, or in the clear air, that I remember to breathe and dream. I remember who I really am. Who I was before I decided to live by the rules given to me by others. Before I crumbled under the weight of expectation – and not just the expectations of others – but my own.
How ironic, that it’s only when I’m disconnected, that I’m truly connected to the one thing that matters the most: myself.
When I remember that awesome doesn’t have to be limited to the actions of the elite few, and inevitably, the people I think are better than me.
What if we could all be awesome?
Even better, what if we all already are?
That doesn’t preclude us being awesomer of course.
But what if all it took to believe that, to feel that, not later, but right bloody now, was to genuinely disconnect from everything that’s been constructed around us, simply make our own rules, and live beyond expectation?
Biography: Sputnik is an internationally awarded Creative Director who loves exploring, writing, taking photos and the relentless pursuit of WOW. He believes in making waves, blazing trails and being awesome to each other.