What is it that we’re living for? Applause, applause?

What motivates you? Is it still the same today as it was when you were a child? I’m fascinated by what motivates people to achieve their own levels of greatness, and what keeps others from achieving their potential.

As humans, we crave recognition.

“…many younger women had an irrepressible desire to be renowned. They had been told as a child that they could grow up to accomplish great things,” writes psychologist and author of the book Wander Woman Marcia Reynolds. This is not the case in every culture, but in Americans, many of us crave to feel special and be recognized for being more than the pack.

Some people are indeed more talented or smarter than others. My therapist is working with me on seeing everyone as equals. It’s a challenge. Recognition is actually a system of relating to others in which for the recognition to be worth the most, it must be from someone whom you admire. It’s great to think that people can see everyone as equals, but I can’t imagine many actually do this. That’s why the artists spend time with other artists, the brainiacs converse with other brainiacs and so on. Few are at the very very top, there are always others to impress.

“In a world that sees people as Somebodies and Nobodies, indignities abound. The primary source of man-made indignity is rankism. By analogy with racism and sexism, rankism is defined as what somebodies do to nobodies,” writes Robert Fuller, PhD, on why we want to be famous.

I used to want to be famous anyway. It still seems that until I’ve achieved some level of deserved worship from the masses I’m a nobody. Earning a stable income and saving for retirement feels safe, but it doesn’t feel at all like success. In fact, it feels more like I’m running away from another attempt at success in response to my fear that I just don’t have it in me to be anything other than a nobody.

My motivates for anything I’ve done in my life have always been to impress another. My life is most productive when I have a clear other to impress. I’m still completely perplexed by the experience of being with a man who loves me no matter what, who doesn’t praise me for anything other than being myself. This is charming and wonderful and peaceful and quaint, and all the good that it should be. But I also lose that drive in myself in the days when I’m not trying to be impressive to the world.

They call this narcissistic personality disorder, or egocentricism, but it is a common theme in my life’s progression, or lack thereof. In a world where books like 50 Shades of Grey are being made into a major motion picture, I feel less ashamed admitting to wishing someone – not just anyone, but someone brilliant and captivating – could just tell me what to do and reward me for following orders. If that is what is going to actually motivate me to be successful, well I’m pretty much fucked. Not literally.

Is happiness all above power, or is that only for those of us who are just so emotionally stinted that power must be at play in our quest for achieving and reclaiming success? To be completely honest, the reason I’ve saved so much money in my life is because I imagine an audience of quiet readers who have been following my blog for years, who see my life, my goals, my plans as entertainment. I do this not for me, but for you.

There’s something sickly wrong with the fact that everything in my life I’ve done for someone else, even if it was in a backwards sort of way that the other person may not have even noticed. It’s all in my head. I’m crazy. Or maybe I just understand my motivations much more intimately than most people do.

 

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