Shots of Wit

A regular posting of witticisms, aphorisms, and general musings by Clifford Cohen.

Who you were meant to be…

Anyone can do anything at all…if they do it badly.

Back Story

The next time someone tells you that you can do anything you want, or be anyone you want to be, consider such proclamations with some amount of skepticism. Of course, anyone can try most things, but have they really earned “bragging rights” if they haven’t done those things with some degree of skill? Anyone can imagine that they can be like someone else, but in the absence of the particular qualities that make the other person who they are, can anyone else truly achieve such an aim? Of course, sometimes we need to try something out to determine if we have an aptitude for it. This is fine—as long as we are honest with ourselves about our abilities once our prospects become clear. In such situations, there is nothing wrong with consciously deciding to engage in an activity for enjoyment alone—without expectation of accolades. When self-assessment is more difficult for us, we are haunted by the fact that there have been many great artists who have persevered in their work despite negative feedback and/or repeated rejection. Such artists weathered criticism and ostracization until their talents were finally recognized (sometimes, acknowledgement did not occur until after their deaths). We ask ourselves whether we should abandon our dreams given the examples of these artists’ lives and their ultimate vindications. How can we know if we are, or aren’t, one of these types of individuals? In short, we can’t know for certain. Nevertheless, here is a good way to escape this quandary (and it is somewhat unintuitive): ask yourself in any situation if what you are doing is imperative because of the benefit to you, or the benefit to others (be honest with yourself about this). If the latter is primarily true, keep doing it. If the former is primarily true, assess whether you should keep doing it.

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