Being significant just because you were born, it turns out, doesn’t feel like enough. That’s why we have a tendency to want to do things to earn our significance, like it is a Girl Scout badge. I remember being a Junior Girl Scout working on earning badges. There was a badge for everything, and if there was something you wanted to do that didn’t have a badge, you could make your own badge! There was something deeply satisfying about checking off the list of requirements, getting your leader to sign off on the list, and sending it in to Girl Scout headquarters. When the badge came in the mail, I would hold it, feeling the texture of the stitches and marveling at the colors and shapes they managed to pack into that 1″ circle. Sewing the badge onto my sash was a satisfying ritual of accomplishment. After a certain point, you had to start sewing the badges onto the back of the sash. Now that, my friends, is significance.

Not really, but it sure felt like it. Then there are the things that happen to you in your childhood that make you feel utterly insignificant. They make you feel so insignificant that you wish you could become as small as a pixel and hide in the back of the supply closet, never to be seen again. I seemed to have a knack for creating impossible situations for myself in school. Maybe this was my own form of self-sabotage. Like the time I tried out for cheerleading. I had always wanted to be a cheerleader but I knew absolutely nothing about it. No matter, I thought. But when I showed up for the tryouts, the first thing they asked me to do was a herkie jump. I had no idea how to do that, even after they showed me. Completely humiliated, I had no choice but to leave the tryouts. What was I thinking? I don’t really remember, but it was all part of my own search for significance. That day, it was nowhere to be found.

Maybe I wasn’t actually looking for significance that day. Instead, upon reflection, it seems possible that I was looking for confirmation of my insignificance. Why else would I try out for a position I had absolutely no knowledge or experience in? It was almost like I wanted to fail. And you know, I think we do that to ourselves sometimes when we grow up with the idea that we’re not exactly the apple of our parents’ eyes. They may not come right out and say that they’re not very excited about us, but something about their actions tells the tale, and we get the message that we’re unimportant, in the way, inconvenience, not good enough, always doing and saying the wrong thing. Then, as I did, we go around our environment to do some fact-checking on the theory that we’re insignificant. And society is usually more than happy to oblige.

Or maybe it wasn’t your parents that gave you the wrong idea about yourself. It could have been your peers, your siblings, or some adult. Maybe you were abused or bullied or teased unmercifully. I’m not a big bandwagon person and I don’t make it a point to follow trends like the current coolness of the anti-bullying campaigns. The fact is, there have always been bullies and victims of bullies and there always will be. It’s not something new. Gather together a bunch of children of the same age in a classroom and it’s a perfect scenario for immature foolishness. Children who feel insignificant will pick on other children to try and make them feel insignificant too. Everyone knows it already, we don’t need a campaign to point it out. Parents are either responsible enough to forbid their children from behaving this way and dole out consequences if their kids are guilty of bullying, or they are not. The important thing for you to get out of this is that just because you seemed to be a magnet for this kind of treatment, it is not a reflection on your worth.

However you got the message that you are insignificant, it doesn’t change the fact that you’ve confirmed and reconfirmed the idea to yourself through your actions and the response you’ve gotten from the world around you. Until now. Because now I am going to help you see that the messages you’ve received from the people in your life and your surroundings are lies. I’m going to help you see the truth about yourself. You are incredibly valuable, unique, loved, and full of purpose and meaning. And it is never too late to start living like it.

Written by Tina Gasperson

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