Come here, just for a few minutes – I have something I’d like to share with you.
Perchance it’s not anything new. I would hazard a guess that you already know most (if not all) of this, given the time to sit and actually think it through. I’d like you to take that time now.
It struck me recently that the Blogosphere has dark moments and quiet corners where the masks come off, and fears get given voice. We’re all afraid – we have to be: it’s a survival technique. Physical fear is a tool to prevent us from putting ourselves in risky and potentially harmful situations. Social fear is a tool which ideally helps us to remain within the acceptable norms of our tribe; stops us from being ostracised; ensures we fit in with a group of like-minded people with whom we can build relationships; prevents us from dying alone.
But this social fear is what I think has run wild. Perhaps it’s not a new thing, but I think some of us tend to internalise the ways in which we don’t meet society’s expectations for ‘acceptable’. Some people wear those differences like victory badges proclaiming their individuality (to like-minded people, who applaud them for their similarity to themselves). Others take those differences and use them to destroy; either themselves or others – constantly obsessing about the areas where the match is not made, creating a feeding frenzy of anxiety in that gap. Difference is bad – it can kill you. We’ve seen that.
I suspect many people, like me, will have spent some time in both camps – the defiance of one masking the crippling insecurities of the other. A large part of my character (at the moment – it’s something I’m working on) is a deeply entrenched lack of self-worth. Sometimes I brazen it out; other times I crumble to pieces.
I am not alone.
I’ve met others like me, and on the whole, we have an overwhelming desire, nay, desperation, to be accepted, acknowledged and validated. Our self-esteem balances on a knife edge, because each time we receive positive input we hardly dare to believe it for its delightful contradiction to our norms, and any negatives only serve to support our already-poor view of ourselves. The slightest thing can send us crashing into an abyss of wallowing self-pity because in spite of knowing and knowing and knowing that we’re failures…there’s always the hope that one day we might not be – that we might feel worthwhile – and any confirmation of our distance from achieving that dream is intensely painful.
Here’s the thing, though: you don’t have to feel worthwhile to be worthwhile. And in my bolder moments I know this to be absolutely true – even of myself. I am a firm believer in the intrinsic worth of each person as a fellow human, if nothing else:
You are valuable, because you exist – purely because you were knit together as a human, and the atoms which make up the matter of you, are part and parcel of the valuable being you are.
Admittedly, the behaviours we exhibit can raise or lower our likeability, but they can never detract from our innate value, and that’s where we come to choice.
We are all here because of someone’s choice. We are all still alive because someone chose to sustain us until we could sustain ourselves. We – matter – were intentionally nurtured and have survived up to this point, right now, choosing to engage with this blog post. From the point of self-sustainability onwards (as far as we’re concerned) it stopped being about dependence and became entirely about choice. And in terms of relationships and learning to feel valued, I think for people who don’t feel worthwhile, this ‘choice’ thing is key.
‘Chosen’ is a much better concept than ‘deserving’, as far as I’m concerned, because the innate value of being entitles us to little beyond our basic human rights (and in some instances, shamefully, not even those). ‘Deserving’ is passive and requires us to bear the burden of proof of worth. When we feel worthless, the idea that we deserve anything is laughable. ‘Choosing’ is active; predicated on behaviour, and it conveniently side-steps the requirement for us to feel anything.
Choices along the course of our survival will have impacted us for better or worse. If we are valuable because of our innate humanity, then the reasons for our low self-worth are likely resultant of bad choices (whose, is irrelevant now). Such as it is, I think the fix is also a matter of choice.
We can choose to encourage warm relationships with people who are good for us – who build us up, support us and nurture us.
We can choose to entrust our heart to others – to love.
We can choose to engage in activities which bring positives into our lives.
We can choose to enrich our experience of this world.
We can choose to enjoy as much of the good life as we can.
Or we can choose not to.
But what we don’t have control over (this is the important bit) is the people who choose us.
Their reasons are beyond our comprehension when we are mired in the pit of undeserving. There is no way we could begin to understand what they see in us, or why they care, and while those thoughts are immensely tangled and difficult to manage, the undeniable truth is that those individuals have identified something they like about us. And whether they’re playing for keeps, or just as long as it lasts, the meaning they instil in us is deeply and wonderfully valuable.
They chose us, because they wanted to.
We matter innately, but we matter to, because of choice.
So yes, alone we are enough – we, matter.
But together we are stronger – we matter.
Our humanity makes brothers and sisters of us all – we all belong to each other – but let’s keep choosing to build one another up, because in the days where we don’t feel we are enough, we will have people around us who care, and can stand, in possession of the truth and say “I matter.”
I hope you can say it now.