“Above all, it is necessary for a person to have a true self-estimate, for we commonly think we can do more than we really can.” – Seneca, Tranquility of Mind, 5.2 (From “The Daily Stoic”)

Oh papa Seneca, how right you are sometimes. But I would take it one step further or, more accurately, add another extreme to avoid. I believe we commonly think that we can do significantly less than we really can. At least that’s been my experience.

I am much more likely to avoid something because it seems difficult than to tackle something that I can’t handle. In fact, it is pretty rare that I’ve tried something and really failed at it. I’m generally too lazy and lack the motivation to push my limits. Or, maybe, this all just a huge failure at finding a true self-estimate of myself.

It is very possible that I am misremembering how challenging things seemed up front and I’ve forgotten my failures. Minds are a funny thing that helps us view the world through a majorly distorted lens. I don’t really think a “true self-estimate” is possible. We just can’t be objective about ourselves and there are so many complex variables that establishing an objective system for self-analysis is almost impossible. It would be nice if life was like D&D and I could just check my stats… oh, I have 9 Charisma, well I shouldn’t try that or I should work on improving that. Oh, my Dexterity is higher than my Strength, that means I should leverage that focus on activities that match my skills.

But life isn’t like that. We are not yet at the point where we can look to a computer screen to see our level, strengths, and the nature of our relationships with other people. Instead, we need to turn to others that we trust (who will also be flawed but with enough inputs from a variety of sources we can triangulate the truth). So, I turn to friends and professionals. I ask my best friend to be straight with me, I send writing to an editor, I seek a coach and trainer to address my weaknesses.

Only then, can a true self-analysis begin to form. But it isn’t a “self” analysis because nothing in this world is that individualistic. We are communal creatures and the sooner we recognize that, the better.

Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail about life in general?

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

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Instagram: @peterneiger
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Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”


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