Defying Gravity

Get Out of This World

As a kid, I kind of resented those motivational posters, especially this one:
28890845222_5c23fa8fa3_bI think what irked me the most was the feeling of settling when you landed among the stars. As an adult, I get that this poster’s trying to push for excellence while still leaving room for error and failure. I even embrace the lessons we can learn from failure, anticipated or not. What I personally detest about this statement is:

  1. Aiming for the heavens isn’t settling at all.
  2. Stars are’t any old, average thing.
  3. If you miss the moon, appreciate the view from the stars. And then move on. Don’t get comfortable!
  4. Keep on trying for your mooney goal, learning from your mistakes.
  5. If you didn’t make it alone, get help. I don’t know of any single-manned mission to space.
  6. For heaven’s sake, you’re aiming skywards, so coming down is only natural.

You and your goal weren’t average from the start, so why act as if they were? This is what I mean when I say defying gravity. You’re allowed to aim high. In fact, I encourage it. For those closest to me, you know I expect and demand you to to push yourself. (Hell, I had a friend’s mom call me Demanda behind my back even in high school.) I this from selfish benevolence. I wish to surround myself with people who aspire higher. Being around people who aim for success means I’ll push myself more. That’s the selfish aspect.

The benevolence functions as more of a mutualistic principle. If I’m benefiting from those excellent souls around me, our collective willpower functions as an accountability safety net. We elevate each other, baring one another aloft. When I expect people to aim high, it’s done in solidarity with no tolerance for quitting. Of course, standards for excellence vary by ability, person, and circumstance–something high school Demanda didn’t understand. If no one ever expects the most of you, how will you know where you’re destined to land?

“You’re a shining star,
no matter who you are.
Shining bright to see,
what you could truly be.”
-Earth, Wind, and Fire

Disengagement to Disruptive Engagement

As Dr. Albert Ellis so eloquently put it, “Stop shoulding on yourself.” What does this mean? All of those times you thought,  I should do this, or be like this, or feel like this were moments where you shat upon yourself. You came from a place of vulnerability and filled it with fear and self-doubt. You were too caught up in your identity and lost sight of how to defy gravity.

This is what Brown calls disengagement, which she roughly defines as the gap between culture or “who we are,” and strategy or “the game plan.” The only way to close this gap and believe in your ability to fly sky high is to, “Align values with action.”

Now, I’m not necessarily one to let my identity define how I act. In fact, identity really only has impact in a group setting. For example, I am a Catholic. In a room of non-Catholics, my identity makes me stand out. In a roomful of Catholics, I belong. Identity etymologically means, “the quality of being the same.” Mathematically it means, “a transformation that leaves an object unchanged.”

In essence, your culture–which is often a voluntary group identity–doesn’t change despite any transformations you undergo. I’m not sure how well this translates to people. I feel like there’s a litany of arguments to be had about the mathematical definition of identity, but I will say this: Your feelings transform all the time, so how you feel about yourself today doesn’t define who you are tomorrow.

We can’t give people what we don’t have. Who we are matters immeasurably more than what we know or who we want to be.
Brené Brown

I’m not entirely in agreement with this quote, but I will say that what we know about ourselves certainly affects what we believe we can do. If you don’t believe yourself to be capable of defying gravity, you never will be. Even believing in your potential for big goals means knowing yourself enough to know that you can grow.

Remember how I said that reaching for the sky wasn’t an average goal? Expect to fall down, a little or a lot. This depends on you and your self-awareness. If your game plan is to write a book by 2019, and you know you have poor time management, it makes sense to work on time management skills.

Building new habits and changing the scripts we tell ourselves about who we are (i.e. Millennial, American, et cetera) takes work. It’s not easy, and you have to be in for some discomfort. If you’re rescripting yourself, you’re disruptively engaging with a new narrative. That means things are changing, including your story about you. Stories die when static, as does life. So keep it moving and reach for those stars.

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