I have been studying the Heart Sutra of Buddhism recently with my calligraphy teacher. It serves to calm and helps me meditate. One premise of the sutra is that nothing exists independently and that all is relative. Forms and existence change and transform depending on the environment and other matters in existence. However, I beg to differ—our self worth and appreciation is independent and in fact, need not rely on anybody else or anything else.
This thought came about after a lunch meeting one day with an organization I am volunteering my time for. I had been with them for about 7 months by then and because I was also ill during that period, I could only do as much as I could. But it wasn’t nothing. In comes a 3rd person and suddenly he got all the attention and it seemed that he could change things around. Everything he said I had said 7 months ago and tried to do, and indeed was doing. So why was he “the one” and not me? Why were others listening to him and responding to his emails and not mine?
I felt disappointed, upset and ignored. I was insecure. I craved expressed appreciation from the people. I felt my efforts were overlooked and that I didn’t “promote” myself sufficiently vis-à-vis others. I felt suddenly stripped of my responsibilities and importance. My pride was hurt.
Yet, why was I diffident? For one, those “responsibilities” and “importance” should not matter because those are exactly the feelings that contributed to stress at work and that I wanted to get rid of. Two, just because things change does not mean I am not appreciated.
More importantly, my confidence, my worth, my value, should not be wholly dependent upon what other people accord to me. I know myself enough to appraise my own abilities and skills, and I may not be a sage but I dare say I can usually perceive quite accurately my environment and surrounding people to see where I stand amongst them. I have strengths and I have weaknesses, but that’s beside the point. The point is that I need to have faith in myself. I know what I have done for the organizations I have been involved in, and of course, I am not irreplaceable, but I have contributed. Comparisons sometimes serve to give us guidance and a benchmark, but I took it to the extreme.
There is no need to aggressively meet everyone at every networking event, to do everything and be in control. There is no need to fear that I am “missing out” or I have too little time to do everything. Who I am is independent from all of this. My worth does not roller coaster like the stocks depending on external factors. I am me, I have experience and I can continue to build on it in my own time. When others want to step on me, talk over me and take my place, they can very well do so. I will let them. I am not here to fight or compete. I just want to enjoy what I am doing.
I may be versatile and adapt to my environment, but I need not determine the value of “me” solely on others’ remarks. Self-worth is independent of most external factors.
So I’m just me. And that’s enough.