Who among us is not insecure? We look around and see people who make more money. Who have bigger houses. Who have accomplished more than we have. This insecurity is compounded by social media, but it is also timeless. There’s a story that Julius Caesar once stood in front of a statue of Alexander the Great. At the age Caesar was at that moment, Alexander the Great had already conquered the world. By comparison, Caesar had done almost nothing.
While there might be some motivational benefits to this insecurity, it’s probably not the best way to live. And does anyone think they do good work while telling themselves they are not enough? Might fullness and confidence actually be a better place—cognitively, creatively, emotionally—to approach your work and your life from than craving? You don’t make great work feeling like a piece of shit. You make great work knowing you are capable of making great work.
In any case, the Catholic activist—and possibly future saint—Dorothy Day had a good observation that we can think about today as a way of putting some of those insecurities to bed. Because whatever you do, wherever you are in your career and life, there is something you should be taking great satisfaction and meaning in—there is something you should be incredibly proud of yourself for: the person(s) you have created.
As she writes: “If I had written the greatest book, composed the greatest symphony, painted the most beautiful painting or carved the most exquisite figure, I could not have felt the more exalted creator than I did when they placed my child in my arms…No human creature could receive or contain so vast a flood of love and joy as I felt after the birth of my child. With this came the need to worship, to adore.”
That feeling, that feeling you felt the first day you held your children. The feeling you feel when they run into your arms and call you daddy. Or when they come into your room to ask for advice. Or when you sit across the table from them and watch them eat. That feeling—the pride, the love, the connection—this is the feeling to carry with you.
You made that. You were the exalted creator of that.
It might not be a billion dollar tech startup, it might not be a Grammy-winning album or the Mona Lisa, but it’s one hell of a something. And it’s only the beginning.