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Lars Gyrup Brink Nielsen for The Transient Thoughts of a Restless Mind

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The worst piece of life advice I ever received

Cover photo by Dollar Gill on Unsplash.

Throughout my entire life, I have been given the following advice more times than I can remember:

Do not think that you are anything special.

This is the worst piece of life advice I have ever received and still, it is occasionally given to me in various forms.

The Law of Jante

I spent my childhood being told by so-called role models that I was dumb and that I would never make anything of myself.

Growing up further from civilization than the town which the fictional Danish town of Jante is based on, this should come as no surprise.

The Law of Jante states that:

  1. You are not to think you are anything special.
  2. You are not to think you are as good as we are.
  3. You are not to think you are smarter than we are.
  4. You are not to imagine yourself better than we are.
  5. You are not to think you know more than we do.
  6. You are not to think you are more important than we are.
  7. You are not to think you are good at anything.
  8. You are not to laugh at us.
  9. You are not to think anyone cares about you.
  10. You are not to think you can teach us anything.

The Law of Jante is a tribute to conformity and not doing anything out of the ordinary. Do not even think about doing anything extraordinary. That would be unworthy and inappropriate in the Jante society.

Small Scandinavian societies such as the fictional town of Jante disapprove if we express our individuality or personal success.

My life advice to you

Conforming to the Law of Jante leads to the infamous Impostor Syndrome: Doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud.

Instead, my advice to you is this.

  • Know that you are someone special.
  • Appreciate that you are important.
  • Believe that someone cares about you.

Believe in yourself. Don't let others bring your down.

Surround yourself with people supporting you for the right reasons.

Recognize that you are good at something. It is OK to take pride in being good at something.

Ignore haters or prove them wrong.

You can teach something to someone.

This is the way to excel in a subject and teaching is a most precious experience.

You are extraordinary!

Top comments (6)

adnanebrahimi profile image
Adnan Ebrahimi

Lars, you are a good man that done so many good things, I just know some of them in Angular community, the famous SCAM, and all your excellent articles. Now this article is an excellent advice to everybody. Thank you so much!

layzee profile image
Lars Gyrup Brink Nielsen

Thank you for your support, Adnan 🙇‍♂️

harithzainudin profile image
Muhammad Harith Zainudin

Thank you for the advice!

mistval profile image

I like the sentiment, but I actually think it's more empowering to think of myself, and everyone around me, as NOT being extraordinary, but as achieving extraordinary things by focusing, learning, and working hard.

I feel that considering yourself special and extraordinary places too much importance on things you can't change, even if that isn't the intention: genetics, upbringing, luck.

But if everyone started as unspecial, unremarkable people, and got to where they are by doing things, that means I can do the same.

Ultimately, these are mind games and different perspectives may be more empowering for different people.

layzee profile image
Lars Gyrup Brink Nielsen

What can I say. That's the worst piece of advice I ever received 🤷

arthurfedotiev profile image

The one who told you that, hasn't read your series about MVP in Angular :)