The courage to be a “Nobody”

I’m not afraid to compete. It’s just the opposite. Don’t you see that? I’m afraid I will compete — that’s what scares me. That’s why I quit the Theatre Department. Just because I’m so horribly conditioned to accept everybody else’s values, and just because I like applause and people to rave about me, doesn’t make it right. I’m ashamed of it. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody. I’m sick of myself and everybody else that wants to make some kind of a splash.

~J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey

The last two lines are significant.  I haven’t read J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey but the above quote is just so… real.

For a long time, we’ve been taught by our teachers, our parents, our boyfriends/girlfriends, people around us to dream higher, to be “somebody.” That if you get to be this–a lawyer, a doctor, a boss, a celebrity, or simply famous–then you have arrived!

Indeed, it really takes great courage to be an absolute nobody.  Ordinary.

Here’s a thing, I do get insecure sometimes. I do get envious of people who have achieved something, who is always surrounded by people.  When I was younger, I thought being “promoted” was my only key to success.

While it’s true that you shouldn’t remain complacent all your life–and I’m happy to let you know that I’ve been promoted last year and I’ve been given more challenging tasks and a better salary, an accomplishment that I really felt proud of and thankful for– just being simply who you are despite the world pressuring you to be cool and popular and rich really does takes courage.

Of course, everybody wants to be cool and popular.  We all want to be liked.  But when some people don’t like you, or don’t appreciate you as being you, what now? Hey, we got to remind ourselves that it’s normal to experience rejections from time to time.  And it’s okay.  It’s part of our human development. It’s impossible to please everybody.  We gotta move on, pick up the pieces and lessons, and maybe somewhere along the way somebody, other people will appreciate who we are, what we do.  And the rest will be history!

It really takes great courage to be a nobody in a society that demands you to be on top. And if you’re not on top, you are no one. It will be easy for them to take you for granted.

But you know what, even if you’re just an ordinary clerk in an office (my first job was being a clerk in a bank), a nobody, and you’re doing your job extraordinarily well, you remain sincere, to me, that is courage.  You don’t think low of yourself just because your job is lowly although at times you may feel that way, but don’t ignore it, instead feel it then after going through it just continue moving forward.  You try to rise above it.  And I believe this is how you become Somebody in the eyes of your clients, your colleagues, your bosses, and most especially, in the eyes of God who continually watches over us.


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