Listen to the story here:
A co-worker at my office had to put her dog down last weekend. I felt bad for her, so I purchased a sympathy card and included a gift card to one of her favourite restaurants, thinking it would make her day.
The Monday after she put her dog down, this same co-worker was physically assaulted by a deranged individual near our building. I felt appalled that someone could be randomly attacked so close to our work…but I also wondered if it was my fault she got assaulted.
You have to leave our building to access the restaurant for which I had gotten the gift card. If she didn’t leave the building to use the gift card, would she have been alright?
I now realize these thoughts are moot. The co-worker went the opposite direction, and had not opened the card prior to the incident. But how pathetic am I that the first thing I considered when she was subjected to bodily harm was how I may have been ultimately responsible?
This is an inherent problem with the human race. Since we are expelled from the womb, we live with this ingrained belief that the universe revolves around us. If we are lucky — and our upbringing is at least somewhat decent — we outgrow this limiting belief and discover that we share the world with other individuals with their own hopes and dreams independent of our existence.
To put it bluntly: in the grand scheme of things, we’re not all that important.
On my twelfth birthday, I was lounging in the family swimming pool and saw an overhead flock of starlings. I immediately deduced that these bird congregated because it was the day of my birth and they wanted to pay homage.
This is nothing compared to my belief that as a six year-old, I believed I held some preternatural ability to stave off thunderstorms (obviously — why else would there be rain and shine in the same sky?)
Let’s all agree that I was a stupid, conceited child.
Imagine if I held onto these limiting beliefs as I matured into adulthood; I would be laughed out of polite society (if not elected to be committed).
And yet, despite growing out of most of this self-centred mentality, I still carry with me this niggling belief that my presence matters in the grand scheme of things. In truth, it really doesn’t.
I’m getting better at accepting this, most of the time. I had a pissy little episode when I went bowling with coworkers and our team had won without me (I had stepped outside and my teammates replaced me in my absence).
I chose to sit out the photo taken of our winning team because I felt I was too important to not carry the team to victory. In actuality, my score was average and I was the only one to not score a strike; if anything, my absence likely improved my team’s chances of winning.
I should have been happy for my team’s success. Instead, I chose to act like a petulant five year-old and throw a mini-tantrum.
In hindsight, I regret my actions.
I’m not that important. The game wasn’t that important. The whole purpose of the bowling night was to foster a sense of camaraderie and teamwork and I discarded all that in an instance for the sake of my ego.
I made a mistake. I’m human; I’m going to keep making mistakes. But I recognize as an adult woman I can choose how I feel in certain situations and how to react to them, and in this case, I chose poorly.
I’m not that important.
You’re not that important.
Want to know what IS important? How you treat and respond to the people around you.
No person is an island. And an island cannot be without the neighbouring existence of a body of water. Other people will surround you in much the same way, whether you want them to or not.
You’re not that important….but you matter.
And you matter in how you treat other people. It’s not always about you.
I’m learning this now. Day by day, I’m getting better.
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