With me, all roads lead to Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter, or Spongebob Squarepants. So today, I’ll be referencing the latter…and I swear this is relevant to your life.
In an early episode of Spongebob Squarepants called “Ripped Pants,” Spongebob and Sandy the squirrel go to Goo Lagoon (an underwater beach, if you will) and meet Larry the lobster. Larry is big, buff, charismatic, and adored by everyone. So basically, he is everything Spongebob is not. So when Larry asks Sandy and Spongebob to hang out with him and his possy, Spongebob ends up feeling inadequate and constantly in competition with Larry for everybody’s attention.
Why do I bother writing a post about this? Because it’s important for us to realize that we all have people like Larry the lobster in our lives…people who have certain qualities that we covet and lack ourselves. People who are so good at something that they make us feel like we can’t do crap.
Granted, they can be really nice, awesome people. Your best friend can even be a “Larry” in your life. Or a family member too! How many times have you been jealous of your friend for doing something amazing that you could never do in a million years? Or felt like the black sheep of the family when your sibling accomplishes something you never did? And granted, the “Larrys” in our lives can be crappy people too…people who pride themselves on what they can do that you can’t, and then promptly rub it in your face.
These people, good or bad, can cause us to question ourselves as often as we’re around them or seeing their posts on social media. When I was a student at the Frost School of Music, I remember being surrounded by so many talented musicians that it was almost overwhelming. All I had to do was look around and there would be a dozen students who could compose or perform at a level that I never could. And then when I moved to New York City, it only got worse. “Good God,” I said to myself in my best old man voice. “Here I am surrounded by thousands of people who are better than I. What can I possibly do that would contribute anything to anyone?”
Well, here’s the truth, friends…it’s never going to change. There will always be people who can do things better than you can. But it works the other way too. There’s plenty that you can do that other people can’t do. Even if it’s something normal, you do it in your own special way. Sure, Larry can lift weights and Spongebob can’t…but Larry sure can’t fry patties, blow bubbles, or catch jellyfish as well as Spongebob does. In fact, the Ripped Pants episode ends with Spongebob finally accepting who he is, singing a song about it, and then ultimately earning the admiration of those around him (including Larry) just for being himself.
And actually, here’s the ironic bit. Chances are really good that you’re the “Larry” in someone else’s life. For example, while I was in New York City bemoaning my own insecurities, I was simultaneously dating someone who felt insecure around me because of all the musical stuff I was getting to do at NYU.
The lesson? Accept the “Larrys” in your life (again, good or bad) for whatever you’re able to learn from them. But also be sure to check in with yourself and all that you’ve faced, fought, suffered for, and accomplished at this point in your life. If you’ve made it this far, you can probably keep going. You’re stronger than you think you are…and you need to keep reminding yourself of that. You should define yourself by your strengths and not your weaknesses.
And as Spongebob said, “Be true to yourself, don’t miss your chance, and you won’t end up like the fool who ripped his pants.”