For majority of us, it could be said that our first lessons in self-awareness are given by our families. That is to say that through the people most invested in our happiness and well being, do we begin to comprehend the weight of our words, deeds, and actions. While integral to our identity and sense of security in this world, being socialized by people who care so deeply about us gives us a warped sense of reality.
In this warped reality we overestimate just how much others outside our homes may care about us or what we say and do. Somewhere in every relationship that has run its course, but neither party is brave enough to say parting words; In every office where an employee is being overworked and thinks them-self the corner stone of the team; is that parasitic thought of “what would they do without me?”
When we allow ourselves to be deceived by such egotistical thoughts like any variation of the one above, we can imprison ourselves in uncomfortable positions. We stop both ourselves and the parties involved from moving on to equally if not more promising prospects. The attention you receive is given and it can just as easily be taken away.
Some might consider these words a harsh reality meant to ground a person. However, that isn’t entirely their intention. Part of this overestimation of our influence on others comes from this idea that we owe it to another person to be their source of joy, security, or whatever third thing a person might crave.
You don’t owe it to anyone to be their anything. This isn’t to say that one should become psychopathic in their dealings with others, but instead, to just remind you to not worry much about someone else’s heart more than they would worry. We are resilient. You are not the first calamity that has befallen that person and you won’t be the last. The disappointment you may make them feel for that day, week, or month, will not have a hold on them forever. Live your life so that they can live there’s.
Most of us have had experiences where someone has overstepped their boundary of influence. Perhaps your partner in your situationship has started backing up because they think you’re becoming too attached. The reality is that while you enjoy their company you wouldn’t want anything more with them than what you have going on now, yet they’ve overestimated just how much they mean to you. Maybe a valued team member has become a bit too saucy because they think you couldn’t find someone to replace them. Reality is that it would be an inconvenience, but surely there’s a replacement.
It’s quite natural to worry for someone more than they worry for themselves. It’s a healthy sign of being human. From time to time we all think ourselves the thread holding the tapestry of someone else’s life together. Oftentimes we come to these conclusions because someone has told us we are so special. Many of us are essential people in the lives of others. Whether that’s amongst family, friends, or lovers and we also have people in our lives we would consider essential.
Your ability to overestimate how much you mean to someone isn’t a sign of burgeoning narcissism so much as it is a sign of understanding the impact we can have on the lives of those we interact with. There exists no kind of relationship without strings. All actions have a reaction, just perhaps not the reaction you think.
I was reading an article where a man talked about the advice he got from a mentor. His mentor instructed him to make a fist and put it into a bucket of water. He was told that his fist represented “[his] impact on that organization.” He was then instructed to remove his fist from the bucket and was told that “this is how quickly the company will recover should you ever leave.”
His analogy was intended to show (accurately, might I add) our roles in corporations, however the same could be applied to life. Take a look at any ant hill recently terrorized by children and therein will you see the human spirit. We adapt, rebuild, and sometimes even improve upon our lives when calamities strike.
We are the center of our own universes, but so is everyone else and just as the world carried on before you it will continue after you. Say it with me:
“The sun came up in my absence and it’s understood that it will again.”
Lilith is a blogger with an emphasis in writing and reflecting upon social agendas that effect black women. When not at her computer writing she is more than likely still at her computer, programming. On the rare occasion that Lilith isn't at her laptop you can attempt to find her exploring the Chicago food scene or attending workshops in creative writing