Life has a tendency of trying to tell you who you are. If you haven't done the necessary mileage to purposefully seek out who you are, the world has no problem in persuading you. Unfortunately, forming your self-image by only listening to outside sources is like legitimizing a system that renders you passive.
Getting your course right towards living an active life with a purpose requires brainwork to determine who you want to be and what direction you want to start heading. This may sound like a vague idea when starting from zero, or after deciding to start over, but let’s begin breaking down some of the practical thinking steps you can take to kick-start the journey of becoming who you want to be.
Many cultures tell us to beware arrogance to a point where we ultimately start undermining our gifts and talents in order to appear meek and humble. Living in Australia for some of the most formative years of my life, I quickly learned about a phenomenon called the Tall poppy syndrome. It’s a way of describing a culture in which people have a tendency to push down others who appear to be incredibly gifted, successful or show formidable potential. Various Asian cultures have a saying that describes this phenomenon: 'The nail that stands out gets hammered down’. The resentment and criticism generally stems from their own turmoil, hurt or decisions (or lack thereof) that have led to complacent, passive lives.
Although I agree that pride and arrogance are not healthy qualities, there needs to be a separation between negative pride (arrogance) and positive pride (confidence).
Pride in its negative sense, arrogance, always has to do with comparison: you take pride in your own abilities in comparison to other people. The dark side of the coin is that you yourself get stuck in the same comparison game as the people who try to restrict others with gifts and potential. Here the purpose of your gift is limited to giving one a sense of superiority.
Healthy pride or confidence, however, has to do with understanding the revelatory concept that your gifts and talents never said anything about you in the first place! No matter your religion or outlook on life, we can all agree that we never had any say in what innate gifting we get to have. Some of us are naturally gifted in sports, some are great in expressing themselves, others excel in scientific studies and research. All of it is important, unique and necessary. Here you sincerely believe that your gift can make a positive change in someone’s life.
Of course innate gifting has to be coupled with discipline and hard work, but when you realize that a gift you’ve received doesn’t really say anything about you in the first place, you’re freed of the thought of hiding it, or having to worry about other people judging you. If you were to be judged because of a gift you've been given, you would just wipe the dust off your shoulders and remember that their judgement makes no sense, and ultimately, has no power over your life. When this principle sinks in, you’ll be able to confidently cherish your gifts and talents, as you would any other physical gift someone gave you.
Whatever your gifting is, know that it is of high importance and has the potential of being a big contributor in the lives of people around you - even in the lives of those who weren’t able to believe in you.