When I was tuning into which topic to write around today, I kept thinking of the word ‘ambition’. For most of my life, I have considered myself an ambitious person: I always wanted to be bigger, better and shinier, than I already was because, in honesty, who I was never felt enough.
I have a clear memory of deciding to be this way. I was 8, maybe 9. My uncle and his friend picked me up from school. Because I was younger and a girl, they completely ignored my presence and talked between each other. Straining my ears, I tuned into their conversations. I don’t remember the context in which the following phrase was used but that one sentence defined my attitude to life for many years to come:
‘If you cannot be the best, be the first. If you cannot be the first, be the best.’
Because I lacked confidence and self-worth and was desperate for external validation, I adopted that statement as a life credo. I competed fiercely with my schoolmates, university peers and colleagues. Did this competitiveness make me better than others? I doubt it. It might have spurred my learning a bit but ultimately I could not absorb more than I could hold. What it taught me though was to learn ways of appearing to be better or more intelligent than I was. It meant nodding knowledgeably at someone mentioning a book that I never heard about, or suppressing my true response to please others. I constantly looked out to find out what others wanted me to be, say or do, so much so that I abandoned myself, my needs and desires more than I care to admit. I got so good at this ‘game’ that it became automatic. I wish somebody had caught me out and said:
‘Gulara, do yourself a favour and be the best version of your authentic self.’
So, today, I decided to theme my blogging challenge ‘authenticity’ to build the muscle of trusting being in the moment, that the right material will come, that it’s OK to be me – perfectly imperfect.
Oh, and in the spirit of authenticity I’ll make another change. Usually, my husband edits my posts. But given that his hands are full looking after our toddler (who might be having a chicken pox!) all my April posts will be published unedited. So, if you spot a missing article or a wrong comma, it’s because my English is very good, but far not perfect.
Until tomorrow, my friends.