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Monday, October 3, 2016

The Trap of Thinking You’re Special and Entitled to Success

Man on a pedestal



“Life is not designed to give us what we need; life is designed to give us what we deserve.” ~Jim Rohn
Is there something wrong with being special?
Short answer: yes.
But why is that? Being special is… special!
That’s true, but there’s a downside most people aren’t aware of.
Before we go any further, let me clarify what I mean by “being special.”
In short, being special is about thinking that what applies to others doesn’t apply to you, thinking that you’re an exception to the rules of life that others have to follow.
It has nothing to do with having healthy self-esteem or thinking highly of oneself; in fact, it’s all about ego and self-deception.
And you could be thinking in such a destructive way without even realizing it.

The Trap of Being Put on a Pedestal

Let’s say when you were growing up, people put you on a pedestal for something you did well.
Maybe you used to get straight A’s, maybe you were a good boy/girl who never broke the rules, maybe you were more physically attractive than most of your peers, and so on.
In short, you had a privilege that set you apart from your peers, and you may have done nothing or very little to get that advantage.
Maybe you never had to study hard and didn’t know how you got those awesome grades every time—it just happened!
Maybe politeness was natural to you and it seemed odd that people gave you so much credit for it.
You just had an advantage and enjoyed it, but you didn’t know how you got it.
People around you likely assumed you’d have an awesome future based on your awesome past (which, once again, didn’t require much effort from you).
Now, this kind of child, with the right set of circumstances, may grow up thinking that he/she is special. And this child might believe that he or she can succeed in anything with little effort. Soon enough, this person will figure out that this isn’t true.

My Story

When I was a kid, I used to be the perfect student.
Not only were my grades good, but also I used to be very polite and I made almost no mistakes.
My peers would say “Mosab, how do you get such great grades every time? How do you study?”
The teachers would tell another student to be like me: “Why can’t you be like Mosab?!”
I even remember that one day, a teacher caught my friend and me playing during the lesson, and I vividly remember that he told my friend something like:
“He doesn’t need to pay attention because his grades are already good, but you are the one who needs to pay attention.”
Because of the conditioning everywhere around me, I continued being that little “perfect” kid.
I ended up going to one of the best high schools in my country, graduating, and then going to one of the best colleges inside my country.
And don’t get me wrong; I’m grateful for the opportunities of studying in such awesome places and meeting great people throughout my journey.
But all of my past conditioning made me think that I had some kind of special power, that I was too smart to fail, and that everything I’d do would be a success.
I never understood how success really works, how real life works, or how to move one step at a time toward your goals. And here’s the most interesting part: I never understood how I could earn something or qualify for it; it was all there for me and I was already qualified.
For example, when I started my own blog, I assumed that people would love my writing immediately and that I’d have more knowledge than many other self-development bloggers, because I thought things would work the same way they did when I was a kid.
I assumed people would give me recognition immediately; I wouldn’t have to work hard because I’m so awesome! Of course, that proved to be untrue.

What About You?

For you it could be a whole different story, but the outcome may be the same: You were deceived to believe you were an exception, especially if you had a bright past.
At some point, you may get lazy, assuming that one day you will have a better future just because of your astounding past.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work this way. The only way to create a great future is to work for it.
From my own story, and from many people I’ve seen who think that they’re “too epic to fail,” I can confidently say that “being special” is nothing but a way to escape the discomfort of taking responsibility and changing things. It’s a way to avoid hard work, a self-deception strategy.
After all, it’s easier to say you’re special, especially if you have the past to back it up, than to jump into the mud and get your hands dirty working on changing your situation.

The Valuable Lessons You Need To Learn Here

Ego, especially when you hide it from yourself, is your worst enemy.
In fact, ego is nothing but a symptom of feeling weak in one area and wanting to cover that up by acting too strong, which never works.
In order to get something, you need to qualify for it, to earn it, and that requires putting yourself on the line and working hard.
It also requires facing yourself and admitting that sometimes you’ll fail and struggle, but you still have room to grow.
I leaned this the hard way, and I’m still learning, but now I can see clearly that I must stop thinking that the world owes me something and start working hard to get what I want.
Now, I like to think that I’m unique, not special. We’re all unique somehow; we all have unique perspectives and abilities, and we can use our own uniqueness to design our future—if we’re willing to put in the effort.
Profile photo of Mosab Alkhteb

About Mosab Alkhteb

Mosab Alkhteb is the founder of SelfChanging.com. Instead of trying to change things in the outside world, we better focus on changing what's within us first. You can't change what's within you unless you face discomfort and pain, and that's exactly what the site is about. Join the "Crush Comfort" newsletter to gain the #1 skill you need to improve yourself: personal strength.
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