Let Your True Self Shine Through
You matter, I matter, we all do. In an age of constant self-promotion, it is easy to feel insignificant and inadequate. How could I possibly measure up when everyone else is smarter, more stylish, better connected, more successful, in control and happier than I am?
The reality is that we all struggle at times with feeling invisible and unable to keep up with the rapidly changing world around us. Yet we all have a vital role to play in the human story.
So, where does your sense of mattering come from? Let’s start with where it doesn’t come from. Mattering does not and cannot come from approval, popularity, status, power or money. When you try to become well liked or respected by seeking some external source of validation, you will never find it. You will never be satisfied because you’ll keep raising the bar and coming up short.
Mattering comes from inside, not out there. We are all so much more than how we are perceived at the superficial, surface level. It us our human work, our human journey to discover and reveal our true nature, in a sense to come home to ourselves. Near the end of the Wizard of Oz, Glinda the Good Witch of the North tells Dorothy, “you don’t need to be helped any longer, you’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.” The Scarecrow asks, “then why didn’t you tell her? Glinda replies, “she wouldn’t have believed me, she had to learn it for herself”.
Self-doubt is normal, it is part of human nature. We all fall into the trap of dismissing our own, thoughts, ideas, desires, talents as not good enough. The danger today is that a culture obsessed with individual achievement and personal brand fuels perfectionism, comparison and manufactured identities that are impossible to live up to. Beneath the surface, your self-doubt and anxiety will feed on itself and keep dragging you down.
The antidote to self-doubt and the key to your sense of “I am” is paradoxically about your contribution to others, not your position or popularity. No man is an island, nor is any other form of life. Nothing survives in isolation. The boundary of a living self, what separates it from the environment, is not a barrier behind which the self fights for survival, but an opening to connections. Collaboration, interdependence, interconnectedness is what is most essential to life, to identity, to mattering.
You are an essential thread in the interwoven fabric of humanity and all life on the planet. I am does not exist without we are. I matter and we belong together cannot be separated.
In her essay “On Mattering” Barbara Mossberg, international prize-winning author, poet, educator and interdisciplinary thinker, describes how we all do matter and can all make a difference. “To be considered essential for what we can give others nourishes meaningful engagement with our world. In such reading, no one is a “nobody”, obscured in insignificance; we can imagine ourselves into who we really are, and in our change, change this world.”
Mattering starts with looking at yourself differently, in a more loving, compassionate way. The qualities you need to flourish are already within you. Notice what you are grateful for, about yourself. Learn to embrace your flaws as part of your unique character. Laugh more. Cry more. Smile more. Dance more. Act a bit silly every once in a while. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
As Dorothy learned, stop looking for your heart’s desire somewhere over the rainbow, when perhaps it’s been right in your own backyard all along. Mattering is about letting your true self shine through.