On the wall, just above my writing desk, there’s a dry erase board. In the past, I’ve used this dry erase board for reminders and notes about my novel, and also I’ve used it as a place to track the progress of my novel.
Now, not too long ago, I was reading a book written by someone who believed that the words “I am” held great potency. So, on a whim, I decided to erase what I had written on my dry erase board thus far and, in its place, I wrote the words: “I am.”
I left those two words there and didn’t really think about it for the next few days.
Then, one day–I forget what I was doing but–I suddenly looked up at the dry erase board and, lo and behold, someone had gone and written the words “GREAT” underneath the words “I am.”
I had no idea who had written the word, and I had no idea how long it had been there. (It could have been there weeks, really, because I still had someone reading my novel for feedback, and so I wasn’t using the board for tracking my novel’s progress at the time.)
After I saw the phrase “I am GREAT,” I smiled, thinking it must have been a visiting friend or family member who had sneaked into my room (while I wasn’t there) and had planted that word there.
So, I left the phrase there for a while, thinking that someone had wanted to secretly encourage me with it.
But then, after a few days, I was ready to erase the words and fill the board with some other notes. But after I wiped the board, I was surprised to find that the word “Great” didn’t disappear. The words “I am” had disappeared, but the word “Great” did not.
Once more, I tried to wipe the word “Great” away, but again, the word stayed. I tried removing it a third time, but still, it remained–in clean, clear, black marker: “GREAT.”
I tried using water and soap, rubbing the board as furiously as I could, but that didn’t work either.
It was now clear to me that whoever had written the word “GREAT” hadn’t used one of my dry erase markers, but had accidentally (or purposely?) used one of the permanent markers in a LGBT Stanford mug that I keep on my writing desk.
I realized, to my dismay, that no matter how hard I could try, the word “Great” was never going to leave my board.
It was going to remain there forever.
Finally, after a few days, I just accepted it.
I accepted the word “GREAT” and, once again, I added the words “I am” above it to complete the phrase: “I am GREAT.”
Today, I see these three words as a constant reminder to me that my life is meaningful, and that what I do with it matters.
You Are Great
Somewhere, on an invisible dry erase board that no one can see, there is your name and the word “great” attached to it. That word “GREAT” is written in permanent marker.
You may spend much of your time trying to erase that word. You may try to wipe it away with negative, self-defeating thoughts. You may try throwing nasty beliefs at it. You may throw past failures, disappointments, and bad experiences at that word to try to get rid of it. But no matter how hard you try to erase it, the word “GREAT” will stay there, staring at you, reminding you of the truth.
You can spit at that word. You can hurl your fists at it. You can pretend that the word isn’t there. But it is there, and it won’t ever go away.
We can be assured that no matter how much we try to put ourselves down, no matter how much we try to convince ourselves that we are the scum of the earth, we will remain great. (“Great” as in meaningful, purposeful, and influential.)
You are great.
Who you are and what you do matters.
Whether it’s writing a novel–or whether it’s following some other passion–or whether it’s just you being you–it all matters. In the grand scheme of things: it matters.
Sure, you can try to erase your greatness all you want, but that’ll never work. Because your greatness is written in permanent marker on an invisible dry erase board hanging over life’s writing desk at this very moment–and you can never truly escape it.
So don’t escape it. Accept that the word “Great” pertains to you and then write a big fat “I am” over it to seal the deal.
Today’s Courage Exercise
Write the phrase “I am GREAT” in permanent marker on a piece of paper and place it somewhere near your desk. Let these three words be a constant reminder that who you are and what you do matters in the grand scheme of things.
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