Maybe Your Hunger For Greatness (For The Sake Of Itself) Is Keeping You Emotionally Stunted

Swap out “happiness” for “greatness” and the words will still ring true.


Lark Morrigan

3 years ago | 4 min read

“Happiness is like a butterfly, the more you chase it, the more it will evade you, but if you notice the other things around you, it will gently come and sit on your shoulder.” — Henry David Thoreau

Swap out “happiness” for “greatness” and the words will still ring true.

Lately, I’ve been pausing. Learning to listen to my discomfort and observe my tendency to hold myself back from success. Questioning everything I believe about “being the best I can be” and realizing that my best isn’t what it seemed.

But there must be a reason why I’ve been holding myself back for what seems like ages.

Aside from things that occurred that were beyond my control and setbacks that I couldn’t have avoided, I realize that the mindset I’ve had and my tendency to run away from uncomfortable emotions were reasons why I haven’t progressed as quickly as that mythical 21-year-old whiz kid with a viral blog plus two bestsellers and a podcast.

While great accomplishments are seen as more commendable when they’re completed at a younger age, it’s not the norm and I shouldn’t treat myself as an exception to the norm.

I shouldn’t chase after greatness without stopping to ask myself if greatness — as shown through algorithms, breaking news, viral videos, marketing funnels, and Instagram grids — is even worth attaining.

With the allure of the self-made digital entrepreneur/content creator zero-to-hero success story, the pressure to perform for the sake of proving that we can all rise up to the same level of greatness (or close enough to be laudable), in as quickly as six months.

It affects many of us, whether we admit it or not. I know it has affected me — with reactions ranging from believing I have it within me to be as great as others who have risen quickly to fearing that I have nothing of substance to give.

But regardless of how jaded I feel about popular success stories and marketing gimmicks masquerading as life lessons, two things about achieving greatness could be true at once:

  1. Reaching a high level of success requires you to make sacrifices that average people aren’t willing to make, confront the fact that you aren’t as good as you thought you were, and approach things differently than you’re used to — I agree that success isn’t as easy to attain as some content creators make it out to be.
  2. The more you try to manipulate your future and the way your life looks on the outside (based on who you assume is judging you), the less creative, less resilient, and less wise you become. In other words, you don’t become great. You stay mediocre. You ironically remain stagnant the more you force yourself to be great.

Chasing after greatness itself without questioning why you’re doing it keeps you stuck and makes you see greatness in a narrow, linear way, which limits your creativity and your emotional growth.

The more you seek after greatness without doing the necessary inner work it would take to get there, the more emotionally stunted you’ll become.

Greatness as a byproduct of years of deep, worthwhile work isn’t bad, but seeking it solely for the sake of it can cause you to act and behave in ways that make you stagnant, if you neglect the emotional needs that were causing you to set your sights on the wrong dreams in the first place.

You can’t manipulate the future to your liking and you can’t force yourself to rush through the process of inner growth.

Inner growth is largely unseen by the world, which is why many succumb to the desire to neglect it in favor of achievements that could be seen and boasted about.

Inner growth is the polar opposite of an overnight success story. It’s never finished and it doesn’t have the ending of an epic fantasy movie.

Inner growth isn’t about being a hero. It’s about being a guide and tapping into your higher self — the self that knows deep down what needs to change in order for you to be liberated from all the vanity metrics that you think you need to be fulfilled.

Inner growth will actually lead you to greatness — not entirely without sacrifices, but in a way that feels like you don’t have be in a constant war with yourself to get there.

Inner growth can help you become more attuned to your emotions. You’ll be less fazed by certain things that keep people stuck and unhappy — how they’re doing in comparison to others, how bitter they feel about not being where they want to be, and how inadequate they feel — and more receptive to meeting your needs in emotionally healthier ways, no matter how humble or simple they may be.

You’ll begin to understand that chasing greatness without any other purpose other than to be seen as great isn’t worth the sacrifice. But what you give up in order for real healing and growth to take root will definitely be worth it.

Being on the wrong path, lacking insights on your own behavior and thought patterns, and validating yourself based only on what you appear to be on the surface will ultimately stunt your growth.

But when you know ignoring your deep-seated fears of never being enough will only keep you stuck where you’re at and not move you forward any faster, you’ll have to change the pace of your life.

You may live life at a slower pace, far more than you’re comfortable with.

You may take years, not months, to properly reflect on and process the deep-rooted pain that you were hoping you’d just get over by now.

You may fall a thousand times and doubt your ability to stand. You may be humiliated and be forced to see your missteps, shortcomings, and defeats for what they are — but the wisdom you’ll gain when you work through them is immeasurable and that is a true mark of greatness that no fast route or lofty promise can ever teach you.


Created by

Lark Morrigan

Poet and writer.







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