My blinding love of my home state isn’t something I try to hide (or defend). It’s ridiculous and I know it, but I love being a North Carolinian just as much as I love being Southern.
Human flight started here. The University of North Carolina is the oldest public university in the country. Not to discount the importance of those things, but North Carolina is also home to some of the best barbecue in the world – with the Eastern North Carolina vinegar based whole-hog variety being the factually correct method of preparation.
I love North Carolina at least as much as Texans love Texas. But that’s not the reason I’m writing about my sweet Carolina right now.
Since 1893, the state motto of North Carolina has been “esse quam videri” which translates from Latin as “to be, rather than to seem.” After spending much of my time over the past couple of years writing about self-esteem, this phrase rings with more truth than ever before. I would rather be something, than seem like I am.
My generation was subjected to a steady stream of praise and reassurance throughout our childhood. We were special. We were unique. We were smart, destined to be successful, capable of anything, and of immeasurable worth. Most of us weren’t all of these things, mind you, but everyone made it seem like we were. A large portion of my generational cohort (and the younger Millennials that get lumped in with us) incorporated this into our identities. We didn’t seem like we were smart and special, we were smart and wonderfully unique.
Once you determine that something is true, especially with regard to your identity, you generally cling to that idea (also see: The Esteemables). Our self-esteem was constructed of benevolent lies that made it seem like a lot of things were true. As we age and realize that what we are is not what we seemed to be, the curtain is pulled back, and we invite all varieties of self-doubt, frustration, depression, and anxiety into our lives. What seemed to be true is mostly false. One must acknowledge that the removal of a fundamental truth of identity often results in a person having to reevaluate many other truths in their life. I can assure you that this is rarely pleasant.
Like children at a magic show, we fight to make the illusions into reality. Perhaps we aren’t smart, successful, or particularly special, but we will do our damnedest to at least appear to be. If other people think we are all these things we seem to be, then maybe we still can be (also see: Personally Branded Esteem).
Regardless of what we want to be or seem to be, let’s just all decide to be something instead of pretending to be. We can’t all be everything. Part of what makes life interesting is finding out what you excel at, what you can be, what you are passionate about, and then doing those things.
Part of me would love to be athletic, or to at least like sports enough to watch them and relate to ‘sports guys.’ But that’s not me, so I will sit with friends and drink while they watch football and talk about whatever without trying to seem like a sports person. I would like to think the authenticity of that is appreciated, but probably makes people kind of uncomfortable more often than not.
The point is to be. I don’t want to spend my whole life in some constantly anxious one-man show where I pretend to be all these things I’m not. I simply don’t have the time or energy to do that – I’m anxious enough just being myself.
A wise old puppet once said “Do or do not. There is no try.”
Stop wasting your energy trying to seem like something you aren’t. Go forth and be.