I copied this quote into a journal of mine well over a decade ago:
“To be nobody – but yourself – in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight – and never stop fighting.”
~ E.E. Cummings
I remember feeling a little beat up by those words back then. I mean come on, who wants to fight the hardest of all battles with the knowledge, going in, that you cannot ever stop fighting? What’s the point? You can’t win the battle and be done with it, so why start? And so, back then, I didn’t. I didn’t start. I didn’t fight. And you know what? That felt like damnit. I felt like damnit…about myself.
During that time I made a discovery…nothing good lasts long when you feel like damnit. Nothing.
So, tired of feeling sort of good some of the time, but not too good any of the time, because I had made the discovery I mentioned above and knew my “feel good” was going to end (that was a real joy-stealer) and also disgustingly tired of having to wait on people and things outside of myself to tell me what to do and how to feel…I decided to enter the battle. I began to fight the good fight of being nobody but myself. It is a daily fight, so E. E. Cummings sure knew what he was talking about.
But for me, it’s become a daily practice and not a daily fight. And my earlier thought about there being no way to win…I was wrong. Each time I choose to be me, I win. And on those days when I slip up, and I do, I still win because now I know that mighty uncomfortable feeling I get (when I feel like damnit) is just trying to remind me that my job is to be me and nobody else. Ever.
Being nobody but yourself is the greatest gift you can give to this world. I hope you’ll give it to us. Being nobody but yourself is the best battle you’ll ever fight, and while you may not be able to stop fighting, you can win. You can.