Spiderman happens to be one of my favourite movies. This is not a case of typical superhero worship, but because the ‘superhero” here is not really a “superhero”. He is more a product of the circumstances that surround him, albeit extraordinary ones. But before I digress, this blog is not about Spiderman per se, this is about a line from the movie that I like a lot.
Now there are many memorable lines in this movie. Who doesn’t remember “With great power comes great responsibility” or for that matter “the one thing they love more than a hero…is to see a hero fail, fall, die trying.”? But my personal favourite remains from a small scene where Mary Jane Watson is talking to Peter outside her house. She says “You are taller than you look.”. Peter replies “I hunch” and she simply says “Don’t”. This, to me, captures a very important life lesson – don’t hunch.
One of the most common mistakes that many of us do while going through life is to underestimate ourselves or to think that we don’t have it in us to overcome certain challenges/situations. I have been particularly guilty of this, especially in my younger days when I was more introverted than a hibernating frog. We always have something or the other which acts as a limiting factor for our aspirations. “I don’t know how I will manage to lose weight”, “I wish I had the confidence to ask that girl out”, “I wish I could stand up to that bully” are all situations many of us have gone through without bothering to stand up for ourselves. We don’t really push ourselves to take that step towards fulfilling our wishes or realizing certain dreams. We always console ourselves saying that these things are “easier said than done”. However, we forget that while these things are indeed “easier said than done”, they are also “worthier done than lost”. We get so trapped in the fear (or lethargy) of our (mostly) self-imagined limitations that we never really try and enjoy the sweet pain of breaking those chains. Yes, like any chains, the breaking of these need lots of effort, which can be (very) painful. Yet, I can safely say that none of us will really complain about the pain if we were to enjoy the fruits of freedom once we have broken them.
There can be many ways to break free of our self-imposed limitations. The level of effort required will vary from person to person, depending on their own unique qualities and their circumstances. One thing remains constant though – we cannot break free until we stop underestimating ourselves. It is so easy to tell ourselves that we cannot achieve what our heart wants, so much so that many prefer living with regret of not having tried than risking failure. When I was growing up, I never thought I had it in me to ask out a girl if I liked her. Today when I look back, I realise how silly I was to not take the chances that I had. Of course there was no guarantee that these would have blossomed into something more significant, but my not acting on them only ensured that they would never blossom further. The only reason this happened was because I believed deeply that I didn’t have what would make any girl like/love me. Hence I preferred to keep my mouth shut rather than open it and make a spectacle of myself. Today, I know I was quite wrong. The plain fact is that underestimating myself has cost me a lot in life in terms of missed opportunities and chances at glory. The day I realised this was the day I truly stopped saying “I cannot do this” to any situation/challenge. Till date, this remains the best decision I ever made.
There is no mathematical formula or even any well-tested procedure to stop underestimating yourself. However, I can say this from my own experience – the day you start saying “I deserve better” is the day you stop underestimating yourself. Of course, there still remains a lot be done to reach your goals, but you have already taken the biggest step of your journey. And trust me on this, no matter who you are or where life has placed you, you always deserve better if you are willing to work towards it.
There is a lot I can say about this, but I know I would sound like a broken record, so I will only say this (at the risk of sounding like a broken record) – don’t hunch. 🙂