Answer by Brandon Lee:
I used to have this need to be perceived as the best, the smartest, the most athletic, or be the most important person in the room.
It was a need to feel significant — I wanted live feedback from the world that I wasn't a nobody and that I meant something.
I guess it made me feel more complete. Maybe it was because I felt like I had to justify my existence. Maybe because I found my sense of self through being good at something.
Unfortunately, this kind of thinking had lots of trade offs.
I found myself constantly comparing myself to others, constantly avoiding people who were better, smarter, better looking, more athletic, more successful, more popular, or more confident and I would try to only hang out with people who I deemed "lesser" than me.
I was "all that and a bag of chips" when I was the best in the group. Damn right, I'm awesome.
But "uh yeah I'm just…. I'll just sit here by myself" when I was with smarter and more successful people. Man I'm such a loser.
I had trouble celebrating my friends' successes because I felt like it meant that I had to acknowledge them being "better" than me.
Compare compare compare.
Me, me, me, me.
On one hand, self conscious, walking on glass all the time.
On the other, overconfident, flaunting, strutting my accomplishments.
Cocky when I was the best,
insecure when I wasn't,
felt worthless when I was the worst.
It was a tiring way to think.
As good as it felt being full of myself, it wasn't worth because I still had all those moments when I felt like I was still a nobody.
I couldn't stand feeling like I was living a double life, I just felt off because I felt like a phony. Because even in those moments when I felt I was on top of the world, if I were honest with myself, I still felt like I needed to keep trying to prove to the world that I was important.
There had to be a better way.
After hearing some sound advice from a mentor, I decided to start accepting myself for who I was — in the moment — without any further proof to anyone else or myself.
I decided to no longer derive my sense of worth from people giving me their stamp of approval and decided to believe that I was important because I existed, not because someone else 'deemed' it so.
Why should I give other people the power to say whether I am significant or not?
I beat 100,000,000 other sperm to that egg.
I'm alive, and that's enough.
My sense of significance comes from that alone and so when I'm at the top of my game, that's cool, but I have no need for any recognition.
When I'm at the bottom of the food chain, no worries, I'm still significant.
Life became easier because I learned to live from that place of approval instead of living for that place of approval.
I became at ease.
No more striving to prove myself.
No longer needed to shy away because I wasn't the brightest or the best.
I began to find joy teaching others and mentoring others because I no longer needed to 'help' myself to be someone… I was already someone.
I naturally started helping others because I no longer needed to prove something, and I no longer needed 'something in it for me' in order to do it.
I began to notice others. Care for others. I took responsibility for others instead of just myself.
I found myself sacrificing so that others would gain and I found fulfillment living for others instead of living for myself.
I stopped comparing because none of it mattered anymore. Everyone is just as significant, some just don't know it yet and I'm happy to show them the way to find the freedom that I found.