Negative emotions cloud out perspective and bring in a state of self-doubt. A daunting wall of apprehension, disgust, and self-hate is formed and stands in the way of the ability to look at life with a positive mind. This is a story about loss of confidence and low self-esteem.
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.” – Henry David Thoreau
The difference between our realities and imagined perfect selves is the extent of our loss of confidence. The ability to recognize the difference and let go of the perfect self is to regain the self and all that is valuable with it. When we decide to adhere to a purported image that may be at odds with what we truly are, we place ourselves in a position of lost confidence.
Andrew has decided to become an accountant. His uncle is an accountant – an uncle who has travelled around the world and appears to be highly successful. Andrew watches his uncle and admires the way his uncle strides into the room, the manner in which he overtakes the conversation and the way the people around watch mesmerized as he speaks. He has wanted to be like this since his childhood.
Andrew is eighteen years old and is at the crossroads of his life. The decisions he takes from now will determine how he spends a large part of his time for the rest of his working life. Andrew is sensitive and understands people. He is very good at drama and mimicry. His speed at learning languages makes him a good choice for any career that requires communication skills. His work with numbers has always been a challenge. He is error-prone and has never liked mathematics.
Yet, he has decided to be an accountant.
Andrew’s mother dislikes this uncle. She views him as arrogant and overbearing. He has scant respect for the views of others and tends to exaggerate his small victories. She is aware of Andrew’s impressions and chooses to avoid letting him see the uncle differently. She prefers to let Andrew choose his choice of career since he is big enough to decide things for himself now. If the choice is colored by an impression of an uncle, so be it. People choose their careers on the strength of much less. If asked her opinion, she will reveal that she feels that accounting is not the right choice for Andrew.
Andrew starts working at a small accounting firm. His work is shoddy and he is given time to learn the ropes. Two other students who are working with him have proved to be quick learners while he is still struggling. He tends to forget instructions and finds himself at a loss to explain how he arrives at certain numerical results.
Andrew decides to improve himself by working harder than before. He finds himself grasping concepts but is stressed by the end of a few hours of working. He improves with time but realizes that he cannot be at par with his peers. He is dejected. At times, Andrew daydreams about being able to stride confidently into a room and be accepted, just like his uncle. When he is taken up by his superiors about the quality of his work, Andrew is crushed. His colleagues seem supportive but Andrew senses their exasperation. He withdraws into a shell and feels useless. In fact, when he thinks about it, there is nothing he can do right, he is really quite stupid. He worries that he is so useless he will never be able to do anything correctly. He is afraid to search for another job lest he spoils things again.
Before long, Andrew is in an emotionally downward spiral. He is unable to analyze the situation and see that he is but a player in it – a player with a choice. He is afraid of his superiors at work and withdrawn from peers because he is certain they taunt him when he is not around. Sometimes he wishes he could talk to someone but cannot identify a person to approach. His current state of feeling that he is stupid rather than seeing that he is following the wrong path, will not help him to find the right way ahead.
Negative emotions cloud out perspective and bring in a state of self-doubt. A daunting wall of apprehension, disgust, and self-hate is formed and stands in the way of the ability to look at life with a positive mind. It is necessary to overcome this barrier and make way for reflection and action in a bid to regain confidence.
We daydream and see ourselves in positive situations and with superior abilities to manage conflicting situations. The daydreaming is a necessary part of opting for a direction that may lead us to what is good for us. The error lies on choosing to emulate an icon without an understanding the unseen context of the supposed superior personality. Low understanding is at the base of adoration that youngsters feel about larger than life adults.
Can Andrew’s mother help? Of course, the notion that one’s child is ‘old’ or ‘big’ enough supposes that with the coming of age, a person is automatically blessed with the capacity to be the player as well as the overseer. If one has a perspective that will bring a positive direction to a floundering other, it must be shared. The ability to be both player and overseer allows the person to step back for a moment and carry out a rational assessment of the situation. Life will throw us into situations requiring us to look beyond the ken of personal experience. At such times, discussion with another person that helps us to direct our thought is invaluable.
Andrew’s career decision is based on insufficient information both about himself and the uncle he holds in high esteem. He has to work out what he likes on the basis of the type of person he is. There are career options to suit individual preferences or it is time for an individual to create a personal niche. The way ahead for Andrew is to take a breather from the work he is currently doing and look at alternatives after discussion with well-meaning people who can provide gentle support without overweening and controlling his choices.