The Art and Value of Being Nobody

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Be somebody…

But when you aspire to “be somebody,” is that somebody you? What’s wrong with the way you are now or the way you were before today? What is so frightening about being nobody?

If nobody is perfect, it is perfect to be nobody…

“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” ~ Chinese Proverb

The realization that the hyper-intentional pursuit of trying to be somebody other than one’s self is a misguided (and entirely too common) pursuit influenced by the ever-presence and dominance of social conventions and media noise.

From childhood, social messages implicitly and explicitly tell you how to behave, what image to portray, what products will supposedly provide the perception of such an image, what to study in college, and what career to pursue (usually based upon money and social status). This is the essence of the social message, “be somebody.”

If you aspire, however, to be nobody, you aspire to be nothing at all except the authentic self; because to be nobody you are not trying to be anything at all; and because you are not trying to be anything at all, the natural and authentic self shines through. Would you rather be somebody or would you rather be yourself? If you are not happy with yourself at the present moment, it is probably because you are trying to be somebody else. Think about that…

“You spent the first half of your life becoming somebody. Now you can work on becoming nobody, which really somebody. For when you become nobody there is no tension, no pretense, no one trying to be anyone or anything. The natural state of the mind shines through unobstructed…” ~ Ram Dass

To be nobody, be:

  • Content: Find ways to notice and appreciate your current existence. The present moment is where you will always be. If you are not happy with what you are and what you have now, how can you expect to be happy with more? If you become somebody else and obtain something else, you will grow tired of the new existence or the new thing and you will continue the proverbial carrot chase that never really ends: You are in a constant state of Becoming; and you never enter the state of Being. It is not wrong to want more but it is certainly unhealthy to want to be someone else or to want more without being content with who you are and what you have now.
  • Accepting: Most suffering is the failure to accept transience. Everything is changing, evolving. Changes are not always in your favor but they may be seen as opportunities to grow.
  • Aware: To be aware, among many other things, is to know the extent to which you are influenced from outside sources. You don’t have to wear a gunny sack for clothes, eat weeds and seeds, and live on Walden pond to find the authentic self. Just be aware of your purchases, pursuits and external desires and decide if they are helping you become somebody (someone else) or to be nobody (yourself).
  • Reflective: Often ask yourself two questions, “Who am I?” and “Why do I live?” and do your best to answer the them (or come closer every day to the answers).
  • Giving: The dedication to a cause greater than oneself, with little or no selfish motives, is the greatest enabler of meaning and fulfillment (and hence success). In other words, not caring about success will sooner provide a higher quality of success than a hyper-intentional desire to quickly create it.

“We get so much in the habit of wearing disguises before others that we finally appear disguised before ourselves.” ~ Francois de la Rochefoucauld

Who are you? Are you wearing a disguise or can you be naked before others? Can you smile without a mask?

What are your thoughts? Have you discovered the wisdom of being nobody? How so?

Photo by Helga Weber