Take The Spotlight Off Gossip

Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people. —Socrates

I have to remind myself constantly that gossip is inevitable. What I mean by that is there will always be people who talk about others. I’ve seen families, friends, and coworkers belittled and the divisive aftermath.

For me it started in school – 3rd grade from what I can recall. That was the age when we began to compare ourselves to others. I was talked about, even bullied for a time when particular aspects of my appearance weren’t viewed as acceptable in terms of society’s idea of physical beauty. For that reason, I didn’t enjoy school. It gave me an overwhelming sense of anxiety and self-doubt, that at times made it difficult to endure “normal” day-to-day social interactions. Yet, since I learned school was not something I could avoid permanently, I taught myself how fit in, how to be accepted, and ultimately  how to be liked.

By high school, I was able to go to school without misery. Instead of being considered an outcast or the subject of gossip, I became part of the gossip factory. I came to believe that participating in gossip made me normal. But in retrospect, I see that all I was doing was devaluing others who were different. Gossip is an indirect way to feel better about yourself, while putting others down.

I gossiped, partly as a defense mechanism, hoping I would then not be talked about negatively. I didn’t want to risk losing my recent acceptance into the “in crowd”. I thought it would be satisfying to be liked but all it made me was a phony or poser, who was in no way genuine. I associated with people who were deceiving and manipulative; none of whom I talk to today.

Over the years, I’ve labeled myself a victim; someone that had been mistreated. Believing this somehow made it seem that what I had done was ok…no big deal, everyone does it.

It’s said that sometimes after a traumatic accident people take stock of their life and often develop a different outlook. Well that’s how I would explain my experience. Shortly after my 22nd birthday life began to change for me. It was as if I was seeing myself from an alternative perspective, one that made me feel like an actor in a play. I had let the dramas in my life run the show. It’s time for me to stop feeling like a victim.

The energy that is invested in gossip can be used to focus on self-development instead. Now in time, I can maintain a good and humble spirit.

Value Life

Over the last few years my definition of success has changed. Also my past desire to succeed dwindled at times. It wasn’t until I realized that being a person of principle, or having good character, was more important to me that I found my true definition of success.

Throughout history, countless stories have been told of individuals who were touted as successful, but how many of them were truly authentic?

My childhood would not have been the same without the creative mind of Walt Disney. His ideas were reportedly rejected over 300 times, and a newspaper editor fired him for his lack of creativity and “imagination.”

The University of Bern rejected Albert Einstein, described by a former schoolteacher as “mentally slow,” for his Ph.D dissertation, calling it “irrelevant and fanciful.” He of course went on to win the Nobel Prize in Physics for the photoelectric effect. Not to mention his theory on relativity corrected the deficiencies for Newton’s physics. Even today the word “Einstein” is synonymous for genius.

Charles Darwin, one of the most influential scientists of the 19th century, wrote in his autobiography: “I was considered by all my masters and my father, a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard in intellect.” His astute observations on biological changes in nature, outlined in “On the Origin of the Species,” fundamentally changed the world of science by identifying the evolutionary process of natural selection. While Darwin’s views on evolution still cause controversy today among some religious people, it’s hard to deny his contribution to evolutionary biology.

I think Einstein got it right when he said, “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”