“You know,” he said after a while, “it’s kids’ stuff, but I always thought my obituary would be in all the newspapers, that I’d have a story worth telling. I always had this secret suspicion that I was special.” –Augustus Waters, a dying teen in John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars
I just this moment finished reading The Fault In Our Stars, the brilliant and heartbreaking novel by John Green. It is filled with beautiful, deeply insightful passages about our existence and our place in the universe. But, for some reason, the passage that I instantly went hunting back for upon finishing was the one I quoted above, with Augustus admitting to Hazel his “secret suspicion” that he was special, that he believed he was destined for greatness. Ever since I read that chapter in the book yesterday, I have not been able to get the idea out of my mind. The reason is as simple as it is awkward to admit to: I have the same secret suspicion about myself.
I do. I always have. Always. And, not surprisingly, I have not mentioned this to anyone in my lifetime. It seems too boastful, too self-aggrandizing, too potentially degrading to everyone else around me. But is it, really? I mean, it is really just admitting to a gut feeling I have always had—an intuition—not something I go around telling myself based on rational observation. I haven’t decided that I am better than anyone else, but rather I have “a secret suspicion,” as Augustus says, that something grand and noteworthy will become of my life, that I will be famous for something positive. To put it simply, I feel destined for greatness.
When you carry something like that around with you your whole life—in complete silence about it, especially—it seems like you are the only one feeling it. While there is a certain power to it—you think at any moment you are going to stumble upon your big break and life will be forever changed—there is a loneliness, too. The famous people know each other—they rub elbows at the Oscar parties or the NATO Peace Summit or Nobel Prize ceremony—but where do those still awaiting their greatness meet? That is why it struck me so deeply when I read that line from Augustus. “Finally, a kindred spirit!” I thought. But then, “Wait a minute, he is about to die, so his suspicion was wrong. That means mine could be wrong, too. AND he is admitting it because he is dying, so maybe lots of people feel the same way and just don’t ever say it. Maybe everybody feels that way.” Could it be?
This is difficult to wrap my mind around, having gone through life thinking I was the only one with this gut feeling that it was my fate to become a person of great influence (and that I was not supposed to advertise that ahead of time). But now enters this idea that most or all of us have this same intuition, this same tug from the Universe. That would be quite a trick played on us by the Divine (or the Devil?), a trick of psychological delusion to keep the masses pacified: each of us secretly thinking we alone are destined to stand out from the rest of the pack, nobody saying anything to anyone else for fear of seeming boastful or arrogant. It is the ultimate deception.
It is a bit deflating to me, I must admit, after a life of believing fame and influence were right around the corner. But, honestly, I have been lately wondering, “If this is really going to happen, Universe, then WHEN????” I am not getting any younger. Perhaps in the end I will pass on in quiet obscurity like almost everyone else, never making an impact beyond my beautiful-but-tiny sphere, my “secret suspicions” of the Great Fate finally revealing themselves to be mere delusions of grandeur. Of course, given the extreme expectations I have lived with all my life due to these intuitions, it would seem quite a disappointing way to go down. I will probably have a lot to make peace with.
So, are these gut feelings–that I am special and destined to do great things—a blessing or a curse? I suppose the answer to that depends somewhat on the course my journey takes from here. If it turns out that they are right—if I win a Nobel Prize or become President or cure cancer—then they will have served to buoy me in tough times and keep me on my course, always believing in the best possible outcome. In that case, yeah! If, however, I go quietly into the deep, dark night, then what? Then I would probably still argue that they were a blessing—buoying and keeping the course and the like—right up until the end, when the realization of eternal obscurity and unimportance hits home. Of course, then the mighty have a long way to fall and much to make peace with. Still, I would argue that that is a fair trade for a life lived with confidence and great expectations. I think I will press on upon my course toward greatness. The end will come eventually, with or without my certainty about it.
How about you? Do you have a secret suspicion that you are special, that you are destined for greatness? Get out your journal, and write about your expectations. How do you think your life will go? Will you be famous? Will you continue on the same trajectory that you are on now, or are you expecting a rollercoaster? How will you feel at the end of your days? How will you be remembered? Answer it both from your ego’s point-of-view and also straight from your gut. More than any post I have written to you so far, I would deeply appreciate a response from this one. I am truly baffled by this thought at the moment about how many of us have this secret suspicion that we are special, and I need some answers. I want to know: Are you destined for greatness?
Trust your heart,