One of my favorite stories about Gandhi is that before he went on to lead India to independence and essentially create the standard of non-violent civil disobedience and influence the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. - before he grew into the man who was one of the most fearlessly authentic human beings to grace our planet - he was a poser. A scared, doubtful, faltering, lost soul who tried his hand at being a lawyer - and totally failed.
His first time in a court room (after traveling to England to obtain a law degree, after spending his family's money on an expensive education) - when it was his turn to cross-examine the witness - he was unable to speak. He collapsed into his chair, tongue-tied, and refunded his client the fee. Other accounts have him fleeing the courtroom "in terror". He became known as the "Briefless Barrister" because he couldn't get a case.
It wasn't until his late twenties/early thirties that he began to form into the Gandhi we know today. Before he grew into his bones and his soul, he tried desperately to make a conventional life work, and was - by all accounts - a complete joke of a man.
People are not just born into greatness.
It doesn't just happen. Most everyone you admire was born into adversity, wandered aimlessly, feared what other people thought, felt like a fraud, and walked through their own flavor of hell before understanding Who They Were, before understanding what they were here to do. They tried on convention, the tried on different careers, they tried to be things they were not, they tried to do things that were wrong. They failed. And they failed a lot.
What sets us apart, what determines our greatness, is never the hand we are dealt.
What sets us apart is what we do with the hand we are dealt, our willingness to do the work, our ability to try and fail and try again, our determination to keep faith that it is all leading us to where we need to go.
What sets us apart is our AUDACITY to remain true to our authentic nature, to remain true to our curiosity and intuition, to remain true to that which we are.
If you are interested in exploring more about this concept, more about this aspect of Gandhi, and more stories of the same sort of other leaders/visionaries (think Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, John Keats, Beethoven) ,one of my favorite books is Stephen Cope's The Great Work of Your Life. I believe firmly that our struggle with addiction is tied into our failure to bring forth our gifts, our inability to connect to our purpose for being here. "If you bring forth what is in you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is in you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you." - Jesus, Gnostic Gospels.
This book is a spectacular read for anyone looking for their place in this world.