The biggest fear we face in the world today is the fear of being insignificant. ~ Angela Maiers
This is a very personal post for me, brought home by the recent suicide of a very dear friend, Christopher Fink, brother of Angela Maiers. I write a great deal about using the power of social media to become an influencer and motivate change. The flip side of this is that having such easy access to information about other people who seem to be doing such wonderful things can make us feel very insignificant. If we don’t find the internal fortitude to believe that we matter and are making a difference, we convince ourselves there is only one way out of the situation.
So I would like to take this opportunity to impress on each and every one of you just how important it is to take your life seriously, because you do matter. In spite of all our technology, connectedness and influence rankings, I still firmly believe that technology will never be able to replace a human touch and personal relationships. What chat rooms, social media networks, Facebook and the rest of the social media universe really do is allow us to communicate more easily, but the one thing this technology all too often doesn’t show is our feelings.
When we become overwhelmed and feel like we don’t matter, we sometimes think we have to take some sort of dramatic action to make ourselves feel like we are in control. Some choose to take the lives of others in an effort to somehow say, “Here I am world, look at me.” Others choose to ruin their lives with substance abuse or take their own lives because they think they are so insignificant that the world won’t care. I think Angela’s brother committed suicide because he thought he was insignificant.
You see, I should know. In spite of all my apparent success in so many things in life, about a year ago I was planning to commit suicide myself for the very same reason – the fear of being insignificant. I had set my bar so high that when I could not reach my own standard, I believed my only escape lay in ending my life. I didn’t feel like my life mattered to my community, to society, or even to myself.
During the week I was planning my final exit, a strange twist of fate intervened. I received a message from a friend with a link to Angela’s TEDx Talk about “The YOU MATTER Manifesto.” Hearing and reading her words opened my eyes and made me realize that I was indeed noticed, valued and depended on by others. In those two simple words of hers – YOU MATTER – Angela’s talk saved my life.
I’ve never talked about this before but I chose to do it now because I see far too many people feeling that they are insignificant. The really sad part is that society is too busy solving other more pressing issues like what Kim Kardashian should wear, and if it’s right or wrong for Anderson Cooper to come out and say he is gay. We look for our politicians to make a gaffe so we have something to laugh at on the late-night comedy shows. We spend our time on social media retweeting or “liking” to show someone that we care, but we don’t take the time to look people in the eye and tell them they matter to us.
In our drive to make ourselves feel significant we sometimes think we have to make others believe they are insignificant. But that’s not true. By lifting others up, we lift ourselves up as well. The “You Matter Manifesto” is astonishing in its simplicity and power:
- You are enough
- You have influence
- You are a genius
- You have a contribution to make
- You have a gift that others need
- You are the change
- Your actions define your impact
- You matter
Say that to others and see what it does for you. In her talk Angela says that people don’t walk around with a sign that says, “Do I matter to you?” Imagine if we spent more time on these principles and less time arguing over who is right and who is wrong. Angela changed my life in 19 minutes and she has saved or improved the lives of countless others as well. I’m sorry her brother didn’t pay closer attention to her words.
Some of us are afraid to wear our sign and ask if we matter. We’re afraid that we’ll be labeled as being depressed or seen as attention seekers. But addiction and depression are not attention-seeking acts. They are ways to try to drown out the overwhelming feeling of not mattering. If you are feeling overwhelmed or insignificant, you might think that taking your life will be an easy way to escape your problems. But please remember that you do matter. Many people could be hurt and other lives could be destroyed because they lost someone what mattered deeply to them.
For those of you who want to lift others up, try being more understanding with others. Take a few moments each day just noticing people and telling them they matter, and you could end up saving many lives. For her part, Angela has decided to work even harder to let people know they matter and has just launched a campaign to fight suicide, Choose 2 Matter, in memory of her brother Christopher. For my part I want to let people know that I am a most happy person again, and my life is full of love these days because someone took the time to say to me, “YOU MATTER.”