“If you should ever turn your will to things outside your control in order to impress someone, be sure that you have wrecked your whole purpose in life. Be content, then, to be a philosopher in all that you do, and if you wish also to be seen as one, show yourself first that you are and you will succeed.”EPICTETUS, ENCHIRIDION, 23
The first part of today’s quote is rather bleak and cynical. Basically it says: if you’re going to be stupid and try to impress people by trying to control the uncontrollable, at least wait until you’ve given up on life. Wait until you’ve wrecked everything, then try your hand at losing-while-winning. Ouch.
Setting that aside for a second — wouldn’t it be better to just admit that you care about doing the right thing, and prove that to yourself (not other people) every day instead, with your actions?
You don’t study philosophy and self-improvement so that other people will approve of you and give you accolades, right? You do it for yourself. “Show yourself first”, as Epictetus says.
The Daily Stoic makes a very good observation about the people you’re trying to dazzle — if they are amazed and impressed by fancy clothes and expensive things and silly ways of behaving… then they’re not all that cool themselves, are they? Who cares what they think! Why again are you trying so hard for them? Impress yourself instead!