While researching how to put a blog together and attract readers, I came across an article that talked about writing epic posts. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard of the concept of “doing epic things”, but I didn’t think about it much before.
Originally, the word epic referred to a hero and his adventures in a song, poem, or novel . It also refers to heroic and amazing acts. My favorite mention comes from the Urban Dictionary, where a contributor posted, “the most overused word ever, next to fail.” That’s right, the word epic has become banal.
And yet, when I read the original article, all sorts of emotions and thoughts raced through me.
Principally, I felt fear and wondered what I had to do to be epic? What if I failed, and no one thought I was amazing?
As usual I analyzed the concept and reflected on what it means to me. I concluded that I question the “epic” concept and wonder why there are constant and insanely high standards on people ALL THE TIME. Sometimes it feels like we’re all in a giant pressure cooker. Where is all this “epic-ness” leading us?
For most of my life I’ve wanted to belong to a group of people and to be included. At the same time, I felt I didn’t fit in, and as though I wasn’t “cool enough”. I wanted to be myself, and yet, I was afraid that people would reject me.
Frequently, I’ve felt socially awkward like Napoleon Dynamite. Sometimes, courage wins out and I express myself both verbally and physically in the way I dress. Other times I attempt to be something I’m not and two things happen: people brush me off and I feel even more insecure. I feel yanked in several directions—the pressure to live up to a standard, the ache to be myself, and the fear of rejection. All of these emotions lead to loneliness and feeling separate, the opposite of what I need.
Deep down, I believe it is natural to want to be amazing, to feel affirmed and admired. I don’t criticize or blame any of us for wishing this. It’s human to seek to be part of and to have our inner world reflected in others in a positive way.
What I question is when this social pattern reaches insane heights where we feel as if we have to be super beautiful, super clever, super inventive, and every quality super-sized, and if you’re anything less, well, you didn’t make the cut, so sorry, might as well feel not worthy because you are less than….well, EPIC!
I realize the authors of these blogs probably had good intentions, encouraging people to produce quality articles, but I wonder how many people end up feeling like me, afraid they won’t make “the cut”.
The thought of trying to be epic reminds me of a high school popularity contest or attempting to be something we’re not in order to gain acceptance.
In the song “Anticipate”, by Ani Difranco she expressed the sentiment, “seems like everyone’s an actor, or an actor’s best friend, I wonder what was wrong to begin with that they should all have to pretend”.
When people write about “epic”, they might think of a different concept than I do, but so far, it seems like trying to be epic on purpose can result in a whole lot of contriving and pretending to be something I’m not.
I know I’ve found myself doing that at times.
And pretending to be something I’m not is like stuffing a cat into a cardboard box and taping it shut. At first the cat stays silent, confused and wondering why it’s there. Next, it meows, requesting to be released. After a while, that cat becomes a raging animal, shrieking and clawing to get out.
Does this cat look happy? Uh, not so much.
That’s how I feel when I force myself to be someone I’m not. I end up regretting it because most of the time, I have to sacrifice something of who I truly am in order to appease someone else. And by sacrificing, I deny me, and by denying me, I create pain. And pain, when I repeat this cycle, leads to suffering.
Like many of us, on some level deep down, I want to be epic. The hero that saves the day. The amazing writer. As I stated before, I do believe it’s a natural desire that shouldn’t be judged. At the same time, I don’t want it to be my goal. Then I wonder if I don’t want to be epic, then what else is there?
Authenticity. To be my true self.
When I thought about it more, I realized that maybe authenticity is the heart of epic.
But even if it’s not, I can’t force myself to be epic or authentic. Not if I want the results to be genuine. Which in the end is what touches people. Sincerity. That’s what has influenced me in my life—people who are their raw, true selves.
I also recognized I want people to like my blog and eventually my books because they can relate to me and my writing. I want to be entertaining and informative. I wish for the reader to find themselves somewhere on these pages.
But authenticity implies being real, which leads to feeling vulnerable, and wondering if everyone will think I’m weird for the millionth time in my life. Will I end up in the big “R” pile? REJECTED!
I waffle about how much to share, how much to express, what’s too much, what’s not enough, how it will come across, and what I will end up deciding to do. I’m afraid I won’t find a good balance or that I’ll remain in the shadows because I’m too afraid to expose who I am.
Which leads me to an inspiring quote by Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”
She goes on to say, “You’re playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.”
Her statement is so profound it scares the heck out of me! You mean I have to live up to my true potential and be brave enough to express it? Not a tall order or anything.
I struggle to express my essence and to not lead life with my ego. I don’t want to search for acceptance from others or impinge on other people’s existence. But me “playing small” is a disservice to myself and the world. I work on becoming more comfortable with who I am everyday. When I accept myself, being me is only natural.
Must we choose between epic and authentic?
I’m even waffling on what to say because in the back of my mind, I think, what if I choose the wrong answer and the reader doesn’t like it? Like a choose your own adventure book where you make the wrong decision and your character drives off a cliff, and oops, dies…
If choosing epic means forcing myself to be something I’m not, then I choose authentic, because in the end, I have to live with me.
The funny thing is, that in the movie Napoleon Dynamite, Napoleon is himself. At the end of the movie, he does a dance, that is so authentic to him, it turns out to be epic. And he saves the day.
But that’s not why I would choose authentic. It’s because the best moments of my life were those where I experienced something amazing, profound, and genuine.
A full body sigh when I spy an amazing sunset. Sparks between myself and someone else when our eyes meet and we share the same feeling. The bridge of healing that’s created in mutual, emotional understanding about a deep issue. Rush of wind in my hair. Full body laughter, a deep well of pain and how soothing it is to let it go, a never ending conversation about a stimulating subject, a visit to a new country or place, seeing a great friend for the first time in years, an amazing book I don’t want to put down because it’s sucked me in…Happiness because I’ve chosen to be me.
Those are authentic, human experiences that happen spontaneously. They are not premeditated nor calculated in order to gain approval, popularity, or some fancy, epic title.
Authenticity creates connection, being together, a sense of belonging, wonder, delight and happiness.
What’s your vote? What’s better—Epic or Authentic?