Courtney T. Ball

I Can’t Compete with That!

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“How (and why) to Travel Around the World” by Andy Stoll

Today I watched the above video which promotes Andy Stoll as a public speaker. Andy is a guy I know here in Cedar Rapids. My brother Clint sent methis link to a speakers website on which Andy is featured. He added with encouragement, “You could do this as well as Andy or some of the others listed here.”

So, I checked it out, and I have to admit I had a slightly different feeling after watching Andy’s video.

“Shit!” I said to myself. “How the hell would I compete against that?” Rather than being inspired, I felt my confidence eroding.

There was Andy, the jet-setting global adventurer, sharing his tales of wonder and wisdom with rapt audiences in his cross-country college speaking tour. Meanwhile, here I sit in front of my crappy old computer in my crappy old house wondering what on earth I could say today about my crappy life that could possibly interest anyone, let alone an audience full of college students.

A dark cloud of gloom descended.

Frickin’ Andy Stoll. Ruining my day. “Mr. Adventure.” Why doesn’t he just tone his shit down a little bit and stop making the rest of us feel like boring, insignificant loser wannabes? We can’t all jump on a plane and spend four years traveling the world just ‘cause we feel like it, can we? We can’t all be so damned “interesting”! Bastard.

The only problem with all that is I like Andy Stoll. I’ve never had an interaction with the man in which I didn’t find him to be friendly, generous, and interesting. He really is a very cool person. He cares about others and his community. I can’t stay mad at him, especially since he didn’t actually do anything to me.

I knew I was being petty, which only made me feel like more of an ass. But I couldn’t let it go. I can get a bit obsessive at times. Not quite insane-stalker-obsessive, but enough that sometimes I know I should be spending my time on more useful pursuits…if I were a creative and productive person, like Andy Stoll.

I got on Andy’s website. That damned thing is beautiful! It made me hate my own website.

How does this guy do it? I thought to myself. He must spend hours in front of the computer.

And then I thought again: He must spend hours in front of the computer. Just like me.

So, then, instead of picturing Andy covered head to toe in blue dye during a Holi Festival in India, or living in a farmer’s mud hut in Zambia, I imagined him staring intently at a screen, cursing at his computer when some bit of code on his website doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to.

That felt better.

And once I felt better, I remembered, hey! I’ve done some interesting things in my life too, come to think of it. I’ve got stories to tell, and a few people have even told me they like to hear/read them. And then I remembered, it’s not a competition, Courtney. You live our life, and let other people live theirs. Then you can see the beauty of how different we all are.

So, I stopped my pissing and moaning, and I sent Andy an email. “Hey, Andy, could we meet sometime so I could learn from you?”

And typical of Andy, I received a generous reply.

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Courtney Ball

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