How do I accept that I won’t ever be great or outstanding? I always thought I had talent, and maybe I’m not bad, but a great many people are far better. I can’t stop thinking this and it’s causing me great anxiety.
Kill your ego, because nothing you do will ever matter. That’s okay, though. It’s not just you. It’s all of us. It’s taken 100,000 years for our species to hump and grunt its way into momentary dominance on this pale blue dot, but nothing we’ve accomplished is all that outstanding when you consider that a Mall of America-sized asteroid is all it would take to turn humanity into the next thin layer of fossil fuels.
Greatness is nothing but the surface tension on the spit bubble of human endeavor. On a geological time scale, our measurable effect on the planet is a greasy burp. We are seven billion tiny flecks of talking meat stuck to an unremarkable mud ball hurtling through space in an unimaginably vast universe for no particular reason. There is no difference between kings and cripples, my friend. We’re all the same hodgepodge of primordial goo, and the pursuit of greatness is a fool’s errand.
Pursue happiness instead. Find peace in your insignificance, and just let your anxiety go. Learn to savor the likely truth that the sum total of human achievement won’t even register in the grand scheme, so you might as well just enjoy whatever talents you have. Use them to make yourself and others happy, and set aside any desire to be great or outstanding.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t do your best. You should. If you’re talented, by all means, exploit that talent to the fullest extent possible. Just don’t do it for the sake of greatness. Do it for the sake of happiness. If the distinction is a little hazy, that’s because your ego is doing its best to get in the way. Your ego wants to put you on a pedestal at the center of the universe. It wants to convince you of silly things like jealous gods and life after death. Your ego would never allow you to believe that you are anything other than a special snowflake, which is why you have to kill it.
Annihilating your ego is the quickest way to happiness. Embracing your insignificance will make your anxiety suddenly seem ridiculous. You’ll recognize petty emotions like schadenfreude and envy for the childish tantrums that they are. You’ll stop comparing your talents to others, and you’ll be able to enjoy being good at something without the need to be great.