You Can’t Be Anything…

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We all hear it all the time, you can do anything you set your mind to.

It is a good thing to believe, especially when you are young and your whole life lies ahead of you. But even young people know that not everyone is gifted at everything.

And some people are just not good at some things.

Debunking the 10,000 hour rule

To the idealists, this proposition seemed unfair, so they came up with the 10,000 hour rule (or myth) and make movies about the exception to the rule (Rudy). I’m not suggesting practice can’t improve your natural abilities, it can. But it can’t miraculously transform someone into something they are not. 

I know for sure that I cannot do ANYTHING that I set my mind to. I am 5’2 on a good day; that fact alone means I won’t make an effective basketball player, however many hours I spend on the court. 

Why am I focusing on this topic in an era where we are told that “failure is not an option” and “you can be anything you want to be if only you try hard enough?”

Aspiring to be better is a good thing, but …

Well, I see people with all kinds of ideas of what they DON’T want to be. 

I don’t want to be anxious…. 

I don’t want to be like my mom, dad, sibling …. etc

The truth is, an aspiration is a good thing. Aiming to be better is good, it motivates us to get out of bed every day. But I’ll come back to that. 

We can’t be what we are not. That isn’t bad news. 

What we can be is a whole lot better than what we are. We evolved in tribes, and I think most of us possess qualities that society needs if we are doing the best we can with what we have. 

You may wish you were gifted in other areas, but the truth is, and I speak from my professional experience, you probably wouldn’t be much happier than you would be if you simply tried to improve what you already have. 

The other thing is that if you spend your life wishing you were something else, it has a secondary “gain”, it lets you off the hook to improve what you are because you feel resentful about what you are not. And you miss out on the present moment and all the positive things in your life right now. 

This is far different than accepting yourself as you are, by the way. You have to work to be better than who you were yesterday to make today better. 

“Be yourself …..”

But the key word is you. You are not trying to be a something that your proclivities don’t match. You take what makes you the unique individual that you are, and work to make it better. This may seem less glamorous than exchanging yourself for someone else, but in the end it isn’t. 

It is remarkable to see someone become the best version of themselves. 

And the best news is that this is actually possible….it is not a pipe dream. It is something that is within the reach of all of us. 

In the words of Oscar Wilde “Be yourself, everybody else is taken.”




Nicole C Weiss LCSW

Nicole WeissYou Can’t Be Anything…

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