Last week, something happened to a friend that had me thinking afresh about the crab bucket that most of us find ourselves in.
What is a crab bucket you ask?
Well, quite literally a bucket of live crabs. Over here, where eating fresh seafood is a way of life, I’d grown up going to a seafood restaurant, and pressing my face against the aquariums or peering down at the box of live mud crabs, picking out my next meal. You can’t eat dead mud crabs, because you’d get food poisoning (at least that’s what I’ve been taught. Flower crabs (as pictured above) are ok dead but taste better when kept alive). So, good seafood restaurants display fresh, live produce or risk not having any customers. Funnily enough, I don’t recall being traumatized at seeing the fish/crab/prawns swimming in the aquarium one minute and served on my plate the next. Must be the Chinese in me you know – we eat anything LOL!
Anyway, I digress. What I was going to tell you about, was this bucket or box of fresh, live crabs. Quite often, there isn’t even a cover over the box or bucket. There is no need, because it is a very rare occasion indeed, when a crab will escape. The other crabs will make sure of that!
Logically, if the crabs were to co-operate, and stand on each others’ shells or ‘shoulders’ (for want of a better word), they could quite easily climb out of the bucket and to freedom. But it rarely happens. What you will see instead, are the crabs, piled at the bottom and grabbing at each other’s legs, ensuring that everyone festers along at the bottom till doomsday arrives.
That, my friends, is the crab bucket that many of us may find ourselves living in, at one point or another.
Quite often, I’ve noticed that when a person in a particular group or community manages to break away and achieve a little success, there will be others who try their utmost to pull them down. The philosophy is simple “If I can’t make it, neither will you!” It comes down to feelings of envy or jealousy. You then either fall back down into the festering pool of crabs, or you hang on to your progress, shake off the detractors and jealousies and by sheer inner strength, continue your climb out of the pool of mediocrity and onto your platform of personal success.
I’ve experienced it myself and am only just recently managing to tear myself away from another bucket of crabs I’ve fallen into, which is why I decided to write about it. To anyone wondering, this is not blog related at all, so there’s no need for anyone to start psycho-analyzing my relationships LOL 😀
You see, when you have been part of something for a while, or growing something, it’s inevitable to attract notice. Suddenly, people who have never showed any attention nor bothered before, pop around to see what’s happening. When they see that you have hacked a path through the weeds, to find a way to get ahead, they go “Hang on, I’m not going to let you go forward because I’ll be left behind!” and they grab you and hold you back.
For a while, I let this happen. When I take a step forwards, I found myself taking 2 steps back because I was being held back. I was being told that I wasn’t worthy, or that I shouldn’t work at being a success because it made others look bad, or I’d bow to threats of disruption. And I felt brow-beaten enough to believe it. I felt that perhaps I should just give everything up and stay in my little mediocre, easy world. I’d come quite a ways from the gauche girl who started out with a little support, and nothing much else, and made something of myself in my little way. But I allowed these threats and crabs to hold me down at the bottom of the bucket.
It was one day when I was thinking about this crab bucket syndrome, that I decided I’d make a break for freedom. I didn’t want to continue being held back – if I had a hand in building something, why was I going to just give it up and toss it out the window at the whims and fancies of others, who know nothing and who have contributed nothing but misery? Why was I allowing others to hold me down or back, from moving forward in my chosen field?
So I’ve begun my climb again to the top. I still have the crabs hanging on, doing their darndest to drag me back down, but now that I’m aware of them and what I can and will do, I am forging ahead. I will cling on as best as I can and I will climb out of my bucket. As for those other crabs, they can fester along with each other and stay back to be eaten, while I make my way up and out.
And the point of today’s post is just to get you thinking.
You may not realise you’re in a crab bucket, but the truth is that many of us are trapped in one. If you are in a social circle of almost equals, you may notice this more although it may be subtle. If you want to move ahead, there may be others who try to stop you, either in a subtle manner, pouring cold water on your ideas and plans, or by outright telling you that you aren’t worthy. It might be said in jest or it might be said in seriousness, but the chances are, it plants the seeds of doubt and you may believe them, and put your plans on the backburner, because you get cold feet.
Perhaps you want to publish a book, or film a video or even to start a blog. If there are crabs around you, the responses you will get will likely range from “Are you sure it’s a good idea?” “Will anyone even read/watch?” “Aren’t there already 200 other people doing the same thing?”
What you should be looking for instead, are people who will help you move on upwards. People who will tell you “That’s a great idea, I’ll help you proof-read your book if you want” “I’ll read your blog!”
When I went through a rough patch, a couple of friends told me that if I wanted to do or create something blog-related, they’d come and support my cause, even though they’re semi-retired bloggers. I appreciated that offer, and that was what I needed, knowing that I had that support whatever I chose to do.
Crabs are best for one thing and one thing only – eating; so don’t let the crabs in the bucket win. Click to Tweet this
So today,take a mid-week pause, and take stock of what’s happening in your life. Are you in a crab bucket struggling to get out? Are you that crab pulling on the legs of others who are climbing up and out?
If you are in the former, what can you change? If it’s a group of people you know, I’d suggest cooling things for a while, or not sharing your plans with these people, because you know that they will only pour cold water over everything and be a wet blanket, and bring you down. They may be good friends, but they may not be supportive friends. Instead, look for other people who might share your interests or plans or dreams, and be a support group for each other. If it’s a partner or a spouse or family, you probably can’t just stay away from them, but you can speak to them firmly about this and, as I say to people, grow a backbone. Stand up taller and straighter and stand up for yourself.
If you are the latter, stop. Seriously, just stop. You may be content being mediocre, but not everyone is. Or perhaps, you don’t want someone else getting ahead of you because that means you are no longer the Queen Bee of your group. Well, some of us have ambition or dreams or plans to get ahead in our life, in our own way. It may not mean we become rich or famous, or that we become the Queen Bee; but it may mean that we chart a progress in our own lives for a measure of personal success, and for some of us, that’s all we want.
Have you ever been in a similar crab bucket situation? How did you get out or how are you planning to?
The first step is recognition of the problem and after that, it comes down to sheer strength of will. It is easier once you identify and accept it. Don’t let yourself, and your ambitions and dreams, be held down by crabs. After all, crabs are best for one thing and one thing only – eating 🙂