So simple, so true, yet so terrifying.
It’s easy to debase the idea or deem it a falsehood; in fact, many would advise you to do just that. “Be satisfied with who you are,” some will preach, diving into their Bruno Marsian cache of optimistic platitudes. “You’re amazing – just the way you are!”
Even in Bruno’s serenade, though, notice that it’s he who proclaims the girl’s adequacy, and not the girl herself. It’s an important distinction, because while others might view us as “perfect” or “amazing” or “good enough,” some level of permanent inadequacy is inscribed within us. Bruno may think we’re perfect, but we know that we’re far from it; his opinion won’t change what we perceive as fact.We want to be more than we are.
This truth carries well beyond a pop song and the perception of beauty. It gets dangerous when we shift the idea from an area of limited control (physical appearance) to areas in which we invest much of our lives attempting to control (occupation, achievement, status, income, personal fulfillment).
In this realm, we are eternally inferior to our own ambition.
Ambition, after all, is the master of the mind. It controls us, and though it does not necessarily deliver us to success, it pushes us toward the pursuit of it. Upon achieving success, ambition shoves the goalposts further back to provide us a new challenge as desirable as the last. It never ceases, creating that foundational level of innate inadequacy that will persist as long as we live.
The cost of this infinite ambition is any realistic shot of achieving personal fulfillment, for as long as there is something new and worthwhile to accomplish, we can never be completely satiated. Regardless of what we have achieved in our past, there is always something greater, something loftier toward which we will continue to strive.
Each of us has a mother, father, sibling or friend to deliver us the occasional reminder that we “should be proud” of our achievements, providing some sort of subjective ranking to our actions as if someone else’s appeasement might translate into our own. In our world, though, there is no “good enough,” and no collection of external perspectives, even when equipped with affective words and favorable barometers, can alter that essential truth. It’s the Bruno Mars theory all over again. We want to be more than we are.
If ambition never slows, it is inevitable that, at some point, we will want to become something or someone that we cannot become. So, when that inevitability occurs, do we acknowledge and accept it, or do we fight against the faint signs of our incorrigibleness until those signs become too loud to ignore?
Do we finally settle? Do we finally attain personal fulfillment? Do we finally absorb the well-meaning sentiments of our families and friends?
Or do we leave this place still hoping, still fighting, still striving to become something more than our present-day selves?