The world doesn't care about you. Sorry. The neighbors, your boss, your friends, even that cute barista doesn’t give a crap about who you are. Not even a little bit. They care about what you can do. What value you offer them. That sounds harsh, but it’s a truth you need to understand, and the earlier you get it, the closer you are to living on purpose.
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; And one man in his time plays many parts’”
Your boss wants a good employee. Your friend wants a good friend. Your fiance wants a good fiance. Your mayor wants a good citizen. You fill different roles, and nothing else but how you fill the role is important. Your boss doesn't care about your awesome flower pressing, and I’ll bet your buddy doesn’t care about your coin collection. They care about how you fill the role, what you offer, or how you make them feel when you’re around. And that’s a good thing.
The world is too busy with their own problems to care about yours. While friends, family, and authority figures may offer encouragement or condolences, they’re really more worried for themselves or for the group. And there’s nothing wrong with that. We want to think that people like us for us. I want people to love me for the special snowflake I am. But I'm sure you do too. And that’s the problem.
This is why people say nice guys finish last, or why artists, athletes, and great men and women can get away with carrying massive egos. Good people offer value, making the world a better place. They solve problems. If all you offer society is niceness, you’re not really a nice guy at all.
If someone asks for donations to a charity, and all you offer is emotional support and a shoulder to cry on, you really haven’t done any good. Even if you don’t give a crap about the starving orphans, if you give a dollar, the orphans are infinitely better off. People can’t eat niceness. While I’m sure your amazing sense of humour or kindness makes you a smash hit with the in-laws, in that moment when the orphans ask for food, all that matters is what you offer.
If you want to know why you never seem to get what you really want, or why you seem to get no respect, it's because society wants you to do things. They need food, entertainment, thrilling relationships. Architecture, art, ideas, science, business, labour, friendships. Society doesn’t care about your tragic origin story that can only be told with violin accompaniment. Society doesn’t care about your mean backhand, or your tremendous whistling. Society only cares about the value you offer. It’s hard to accept. It was hard for me to accept. I’m sure it’s hard for you too. But if you focus on giving back, getting up and doing things, your life will get so much better.
Imagine how ridiculous it would be if you walked into an interview, and your pitch was that there was nothing glaringly wrong with you.
That isn’t to say a lot of your inner qualities aren’t valuable. They are. But only in certain situations. You shouldn’t be a dick because you know you shouldn’t. Treating others poorly makes us miserable. It’s just how we are. Humans are wired that way. The problem is that some people assume that not being a dick will get them through life. It won’t. Everything is circumstantial.
This shouldn't bring you down. It’s liberating! If you can give back value, if you can offer something that matters, nothing else is relevant. Regardless of you past, personality, quirks, or deficiencies, you can be successful if you offer value.
Like most people, I struggled with this. It’s hard to see out of our bubble. I’m certainly no expert. But when I stopped focusing on who I was, and started focusing on what I did, my life got better.
Monsanto uses child labour and steals jobs. Their CEO tries his best to emulate skeletor, complete with an evil laugh. But people buy from Monsanto because they offer a good product. The market doesn’t care about the supervillainy.
Kanye West is a dick but people buy his records. The KKK buys bean cakes from Nation of Islam because they taste good. The United states couldn’t have split the atom without Nazi scientists.
You’re probably a better looker than skeletor. I’m positive that your secret or flaw isn’t as bad as a factory full of children, or mass genocide. Whatever disadvantages you face can be overcome by offering value.
I’m not going to sit here and say people don’t have different abilities and setbacks. Being born Bruce Wayne is a hell of a lot better than growing up in a warzone. Society is unfair, and it’s easy to get caught up in what’s wrong. But what I will tell you is that these setbacks don’t matter. The only way for things to get better is to focus on what you can change. What you can offer.
So if you want more, give more. Develop a skill. Practice every day, even if you’re miserable at it. Get a talent, offer value, and you’ll go far.