Everyone you know is frustrated about some part of themselves the world doesn’t see. We all think our lives would be easier if only we could get a little more understanding from others. If only we could get them to see.
“I wish my boss knew how hard I’m trying,” you might think. Or, “I wish my dad could see that I respect him.” Or, the all-time classic, “I wish she knew how I felt about her.”
At the same time, we keep these feelings hidden. We take the parts of ourselves that we most wish others would understand and shove them into a closet deep inside. So as much as we desperately want to be understood, we also don’t want to be found out. We hold on to our secrets, afraid the transparency we crave might not bring the acceptance we hope for.
And so each day passes, every one a little faster than the last, until we realize we’ve reserved our best words for epitaphs and eulogies, when whoever needs to hear them the most can’t hear them anymore.
That’s the part we’re missing: At the end of the day, what we want the world to know about us isn’t really about us at all. It’s about our relationships with others. About how we feel about them. What they mean to us. How they’ve changed our lives — sometimes for the worse but hopefully for the better.
Therefore, being seen as who you really are isn’t a matter of sweeping declarations, being found out, or finding a certain set of special people. It’s about revealing it consistently, one person and part of yourself at a time.
If you want the world to see you as a caring person, start by telling one person you care about them. Then, follow through on that promise. That’s it.
I’m no better at this than you are. I have to remind myself constantly. To practice, again and again. So while you’re here, I’d like to take the chance and tell you five things I want you to know.
1. You’re not alone.
You’re never alone. Even when it really, really feels like it, there are always 7.7 billion others right here with you. Chances are, someone out there is going through the exact same thing you are in this very moment. And if not, one of the 100 billion who came before us definitely has.
Maybe, they were a public servant in ancient Rome, a peasant in 17th-century France, or a tribal hunter in 3,000 BC, but they had the same range of thoughts, feelings, and physical capabilities you and I have today.
Maybe, they used different words or no words at all but what they saw, heard, felt? That was universal, and you’re now following in the footsteps of their human experience. You’re not alone. You will never be alone. Take comfort in that.
2. You are amazing.
Someone brought you into this world. None of us decide to be. And yet, each of us is comprised of a vast number of mesmerizing parts, both physical and psychological, wondrously, synchronously working together in a sea of coincidence.
You take one breath, and millions of cells are activated. You think one thought, millions of synapses fire. All of this despite the chaos in which we’re floating, the hundreds of asteroids hitting earth each year, the great imbalances in nature and between humans, and the 400 trillion to one odds of you being born in the first place. You are amazing. Don’t take it for granted.
3. You are valuable.
You might not feel like it. But you are. You don’t need to be funny or charming or solve problems for millions of people. You just have to be here. Sit. Exist.
Of course, you’ll eventually want and choose to do good. To be useful. To help those around you and brighten their day. But those are consequences, not prerequisites.
As you are, you’re a complete, self-contained vessel of perspective, emotion, and capability. A unique bundle among nearly eight billion others, with a right to exercise that uniqueness however you see fit without hurting others’ ability to exercise theirs. You are valuable. Act like it.
4. You are wanted.
Desirable. Filled with potential. Someone out there wants that potential. Wants you. They want you to be everything you are and then some.
They want you lock, stock, and barrel. Crooked nose, tiny butt, messy hair and all. They might not always want you sexually or romantically. Sometimes, they just want you as a friend. A colleague. A stranger turned companion by listening that one time at the airport. But they want you.
Sometimes, they want you so much they get frustrated with you not wanting to be more of who you already are. Or not being able to. This too shall pass. Most of the time, however, they want you exactly as you are. You are wanted. Never forget it.
5. You are loved.
Even if it’s just me. I love you. But I hope there’s at least two of us. I hope every day you wake up, you choose to love yourself. Make an attempt if you can’t. Someday, you’ll get through to yourself. Until, eventually, there’ll be others.
An unexpected friend. Maybe the guy from the corner store. Maybe one with four legs. Whoever it is, they’ll show you not just what it’s like to be loved, but which parts of yourself you love the most that you didn’t even know you had.
Somewhere out there, in a tiny, distant corner of the universe, there is a book with your name on it. And for every book, there is someone who can’t stop reading it. Whether it’s an army of followers or just the person you see when you look in the mirror, each next section deserves to be read. Each new chapter could make it a page-turner. You are loved. Make the most of it.
There’s that old, Stoic saying by Publilius Syrus: If you want to have a great empire, then rule over yourself.
I think the same goes for having an impact and how the world will see and remember you: If you want to change many, let them know how they’ve changed you.
Pick one person today. Tell them what you want them to know. Tell them why they make you feel happy, good, balanced, content, or simply like someone who deserves any or all of these things. I can’t tell you what will happen, but I know you won’t regret it.