The Extraordinary Person is someone you know or used to know who is currently so far ahead of everyone that people start to rationalise how this may have happened.
They rationalise because human beings are naturally rationalising creatures.
How do we cope with the fact that someone you went to class with, is the same age as you, and started out on the same level playing field as you but fast forward to age 30 and they’re light years ahead of you?
That person may be ahead of you financially, may be ahead in both social and emotional relationships, may be in better physical shape, and in general is ahead in most (if not all) aspects of life.
The level of progress on some on these aspects may be difficult to gauge, but for some reason you might feel that the discrepancy in lifestyle is glaring.
In the beginning you were equal…
In your 20s there is little discrepancy between your peers.
You notice some people you know are doing cool stuff like studying for a semester abroad, creating societies at university, hosting radio shows and podcasts, volunteering at various charity organisations, getting into internships, and hanging out with equally influential, phenomenal achievers.
Some people are broadening their horizons, expanding their comfort zones, and making the most of the opportunities characteristic of the phase of life they are in at the moment.
These are the little differences that you start to notice.
Over time though, these seemingly innocuous incremental differences slowly but surely amount to a broader picture of success. These small differences amplify over time, in a similar manner in which compound interest behaves.
Imagine this scenario for a moment. Consider an ex-classmate of yours who was always a boisterous, fun-loving, ambitious person who’d always push the boundaries and try new exciting things.
Fast forward 5 or 10 years.
You learn he has been travelling around the world, hiking in Yosemite, bungee jumping in New Zealand, and having threesomes with beautiful women in Australia. He’s earning big bucks and is living life.
Whatever your ideal of success is – he’s surpassed it.
What’s the reaction?
Let’s forget about envy, disdain, or indifference.
If your default mode is to be envious or just exude negativity when confronted by such aspects of reality – there’s something wrong with you.
Don’t waste your mental energy or precious time with petty dramas and emotions that will only drain you.
More, rather than being indifferent, be happy for the people you once knew who are currently maximising their potential.
I can hardly imagine being indifferent towards someone I grew up with that’s living it up in some way or another.
The convenient dissociative psychological mechanism
Emotions aside however, I’ve noticed that one of the most common dissociative coping mechanisms in such situations are thought processes and ruminations like:
“He’s always been like that.”
“Yup, classic [insert name here]”
“He’s one of a kind”.
It’s a convenient psychological self-preservation mechanism that occurs by means of dissociating yourself from the person that’s pushing the boundaries i.e. ‘the extraordinary person.’
This happens by elevating the extraordinary person to undefined heights, almost pedestalising his unique aptitudes, temperaments and behaviours all in an effort to rationalise and absolve yourself of any responsibility as regards your current situation in life.
In fact, I’ve realised that people tend to overestimate the achievements and successes of those who blow the curve.
Oftentimes, this overestimation borders on idealism – but that doesn’t matter.
What matters is that this dissociation serves its latent purpose.
And that’s to make the extraordinary seem so awesome, so different, so ‘out-group’ that it’s hard to feel bad about your inertia and stagnation, about you not reaching those same heights in a particular area, and not enjoying the specific portions of the incredibly wide spectrum of pleasures life has to offer.
An apt and succinct description of ‘the extraordinary person’ would be to paraphrase Fyodor Dostoyevsky in that such a person “deviates from the common rut.”
There’s nothing interesting about being average.
The truth is that anybody can become an extraordinary person.
It’s what naturally happens when people push the boundaries with the goal of consistent self-betterment.
Become the extraordinary person.
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