“I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being.” ~Hafiz of Shiraz
Have you ever felt like you didn’t matter?
Were you ever held back from pursuing something because the voice in your head said, “Why bother?”
You're not alone.
I once felt that way too, but I discovered a way out of that dark time.
In my early twenties, fresh out of college, I had my first professional job interview. I had the blissful optimism and naiveté characteristic of most college grads seeing a world full of infinite possibilities.
And although optimistic, I was understandably apprehensive because it was relatively difficult for a first-time interview.
It consisted of the following:
- An interview lasting one to two hours conducted by a panel of eight to ten people.
- Answering questions in Spanish since being bilingual was a requirement.
I prepared for a week and hoped for the best.
In the beginning, the situation was quite unnerving with everyone watching and analyzing me, but then it got relatively easier. Yet, just when I started to feel somewhat comfortable, someone asked me a question in Spanish (my big weakness).
I wasn’t confident speaking conversational Spanish, so when I answered the question, I completely choked, and my Spanish sounded like I was a toddler learning how to talk. All of a sudden one of the other interviewers belted out raucous laughter, and the humiliation poured over me like a waterfall.
After ten seconds of awkward silence, the rest of the interview didn’t matter because I felt more insignificant than a speck of dust.
And, not only did I not get the job, but the resulting humiliation also destroyed my self-worth and bruised my youthful, inexperienced ego.
I didn’t bother interviewing for another job for almost a year.
Not until I had some clarity one day looking into my daughter’s eyes did I realize how I had allowed someone to control my life like an invisible bully.
I wanted to take back control, move on, and not live life feeling so small.
I had to be strong for my daughter and regain my self-worth.
I realized seven things we should remember when we think we don’t matter:
1. We all have the same emotional pain points: insecurity, self-doubt, and fear of not belonging.
As different as we all are outwardly, we feel the same emotional pain. Some of us hide it or mask it with anger, mean-spiritedness, and insensitivity, while a minority can clearly communicate that pain in a healthy way. In the end, we all want the comfort of belonging to a group and the feeling of sincere acceptance.
Stop feeding your pain by comparing yourself with others.
Whether it’s a lack of success in relationships, financial issues, or being insecure about your body, focus on the emotional indirect connection with others instead, and feel less alone by knowing you share this pain with everyone
2. You were blessed with a “super power.”
You may not know it, but you can do something so easily that you take it for granted. If you are unsure what that super power is, take the time to deeply reflect on the possibilities: intuitive, artistic, empathic, talented dancer or musician, skilled cook, caring, organized, etc.
This is your super power or skill you are blessed with. No matter what you think, this blessing is significant, so recognize you have a gift, use it, and share it with the world.
3. Confidence can be learned.
You may think that people are born confident, but this isn’t true; confidence can be learned. It also can be rebuilt. For me, the difficult first step of doing another job interview began the process of rebuilding my confidence, and steadily my confidence grew with each interview I tackled afterward.
Know it’s possible and don’t get shut down by the myth that you either have confidence or you don’t. Learning to be confident will test your comfort levels, but building confidence is a process that even the most timid can achieve.
4. Look at low points in your life without self-judgment.
Just like we take care of a physical injury, emotional pain also must be taken care of in deeply caring ways.
The most important thing to do when you are at a low point in your life is don't judge or self-blame. Punishing yourself by going through that mental loop of I deserve this, or I’m worthless is like walking on a broken leg; you won’t heal.
Be gentle to yourself, give yourself time, and rebuild your strength—you’ll get through.
5. Of all the voices in the world, the loudest and most insidious is your inner voice.
The inner critic wants you to believe the lie that you must be perfect. Trying to be perfect all the time strips the joy out of life.
If you don’t accomplish goals, don’t know what you want yet, and make numerous mistakes, that’s okay because life is about discovery.
The only obligation you have is to be true to yourself. Don’t empower that inner critic by listening. Instead, drown out that voice by talking to yourself in more encouraging ways; you’ll live your life with more joy this way
6. You don’t need to know what others think. In other words, nobody will please and be liked by everyone.
Stop obsessing about what others think. You can’t control their thoughts because it isn’t within your control. So let go of that forever.
Free yourself and know that you can't possibly please everyone. The greatest creators, dreamers, and innovators faced the worse kind of adversity and were hated by many people. Just be the real you and nothing more.
Don’t allow others to validate your worth; all you need to know is you are doing the best that you can do, and that’s enough.
Throughout your life, gather the ideas, thoughts, and opinions of others, but always look within and live your truth. We all want acceptance, but if you never live your truth, you will always be imprisoned by other people's opinions.
7. Rejection is not failure; it means something better that you deserve is coming.
That rejection by a love interest or that HR Manager for the job opportunity you really wanted is not a failure. You are simply in the process of getting what you deserve and what is right for you.
The doors that slam in your face may be many, but soon you’ll realize they were secret blessings that you will look back on fondly. When people say, “No,” keep trying and eventually you’ll find that one proverbial door that will finally be the one meant just for you.
Rejection is better than doing nothing because you’re at least trying and building momentum, regardless of how crappy you may feel.
If you want something, momentum begins when you take the first step, even if it is the tiniest step.
Make Your Inner Light Burn Brighter
Regardless of all the curveballs that life throws at you, know that you completely matter.
You may feel your self-worth has been lost, but don’t lose hope.
Focus on what connects you with others (both flaws and strengths), embrace your superpower and not your weaknesses, strengthen your confidence one step at a time, and be empowered to accomplish your dreams.
Know that everyone endures the ebb and flow of life in different ways.
Before you know it, the bounce will return to your step, and your confidence will radiate the room.
It's only a matter of time.
Let me know which of these points you'll embrace today.
Woman in a ski jacket image via Shutterstock