I used to put my cellphone on silent, hide it under my pillow and leave it there for the entire day. It was my way of convincing myself that I was a worthwhile person.
I would go about my day, looping in and out of items on my “to do” list and would come back, only after I reached the bottom of my list, to retrieve the hidden cell phone.
My worth, for a very long time, depended on the number of missed calls and text messages I had received.
It sounds silly looking back, probably the most ridiculous way to tabulate my relevance in this world. But for a girl who hinged her life on other people? Oh, it made perfect sense.
I have long placed my worth upon the comments, compliments and words of others. And it is not such a good thing. One person can tell me that I am amazing and I will be amazing for the day. Another can tell me that I need to work on this article or that piece of work, and I will translate it in my head: You are not good enough. You need work. Try again, fall short again. I am honest in saying all of this because of one simple truth: I am far from being the only one.
I am one, among a tidal wave of individuals, who is looking for self worth in a cellphone under her pillow, set to vibrate.
I want to challenge our culture to a fight sometimes. Tap it on the shoulder and tell it to suit up, or we could go MMA style, in which case I am ready to throw the first punch right now. I can picture myself fighting our culture, yelling at it for convincing us that if we are not moving every second of the day then we are being lazy. Irresponsible. Not on our A-Game.
Left Hook. Sucker Punch. Jab. Round About Kick to the Face.
No wonder the self-help industry has such a big ol’ drum to beat, every 5 minutes another battered soul falls out of the ring. Punched square in the face with the reality that they are not perfect. Will never be perfect. And will never save the world.
It’s really very sad to feel like no matter how much we accomplish in a day, it is never enough. We cannot please the world and yet we are hellbent on trying.
We chalk our worth up to boxes we can check off and meetings we can attest to having attended. We monetize our worth. We hand our worth over to other people so that they can twist it and contort it and spit back their feedback, to let us know whether or not we matter. Or if we will make it far in this place. Or if we should just give up and find a new craft. A new hobby. A new life.
Some nights I fall asleep wondering how heavy the world is. Surely it is so heavy that we each could hold a decent chunk of it on our shoulders. We could walk around tired, constantly wondering if we will drop the world. And if we do, how will it shatter? How will it break?
What will happen when our Little Chunks of Africa & Australia, Texas & Peru come falling from our Shoulders?
I think this is precisely the reason that people go fleeting to find God, wherever He may be, because they realize that they are Too Little to battle this World and they need someone with a better Right Hook. A Stronger Left Kick.
The more we are taught to believe in ourselves, the less we feel the need to believe in something outside of ourselves. And that’s o.k. That’s fine. That will work for about 10 minutes. But eventually we all fall down right? We run around in our circles, getting quite dizzy, holding tighter to the hands of others. But We All Fall Down.
And then we do one of two things. Either we pick ourselves up and we begin to spin once again. Or we turn away from the spinning, the clutching onto others for self worth, and we realize we are already in the perfect position. On the ground. The perfect position.
We take off our capes. We take the world from our shoulders as if it were heavy football padding. We fold onto our knees and we pray.
We pray for new self worth. We pray for something besides a superhero status to convince ourselves that every single day, as we wake and put both feet on the ground and start walking forward, we are worth it. And we are wonderful. We pray for a rumination in our hearts to keep our inner working warm.
And then we find the strength to get up. One Knee to One Foot. Other Knee to Other Foot. Standing. Yes, Standing. Two Legs Strong. And We Begin to Walk. And We Begin to Talk. And we Begin To Live Life by Our Own Standards. And we Adopt Words like Better, Happier, Fuller. Not Invincible but Stronger. Not Perfect but Perfectly Imperfect.
You know, the whole world gets a lot easier when we realize that it is not one big boulder made for our shoulders. The world was never meant to stand upon us, for if it was, it surely would. We were meant to stand upon the world. And here we are, holding hands and spinning gently, Slowly but in not hurry, Up On Top Of The World.