The world is full of inspirational people and their stories. Newspapers and magazines, social media and television programs, are all brimming with the tales of people who kept going despite the odds, who grappled with the dragon and won the fight. Look, we are told, gasp and wonder, be awed and inspired!
It is not only the one-hit wonders who are flagged to inspire us. It is not only the prodigies and the heroes, the leaders and the pioneers, whom we are taught to follow. It is every successful businessman, entrepreneur, artist, writer, mother, teacher, doctor, engineer, chief cook and bottle washer who takes a stand, writes a book, or becomes a mentor, life coach and inspirational speaker.
It drives me to despair.
Let me explain.
The message behind every inspirational story is surely this: If I can do it, then so can you. If I can build a business empire on wit and luck, if I can write a best-seller after dozens of rejection letters, if I can become a keynote speaker after a debilitating stroke, then why not you?
That is all very well and very, well… inspirational. Humans do seem to need heroes. We need role models and mentors, people who have been there and done that and are wise enough to stand at the crossroads and show us the way. We need little books of inspirational quotes and memes encouraging us to never give up. Without the hope of light at the end of the tunnel, we might as well lay down our shovels and die.
The problem for me is this – the burden of expectation.
If someone else writes 2000 words a day, birthing books like a rabbit on fertility treatment, with the odd best seller every other year, then there is no excuse for my pitiful harvest. If the gal on the podium got her first university degree at 55 and has since clocked up three doctorates in philosophy, despite being blind/deaf/dyslexic, then surely I have wasted my God-given talents by only being a second-rate scribbler. Why have I not become a surgeon, a designer, a chef, a mother even, considering the card hand I was dealt?
So as I read another list of inspiring quips or listen to another motivational speaker, I am squirming inside. I make all kinds of resolutions. I will get up earlier, stay up later, set aside time to write, write, write, paint, draw, study, design, teach… Inspire?