There are over 7 billion people in the world today. In such a vast, dynamic place, sometimes feelings of insignificance can creep in. For me, these feelings can be triggered when I’m reading about outer space or when I see a spectacular natural wonder. In these moments, I find myself reflecting on my impact on the world, and on the legacy I will leave behind.
You don’t have to resign yourself to singing “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas. Always know that you matter – to your community and to the world as a whole. Dr. Seuss said it best: “Today you are you, that’s truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.”
In all seriousness, though, feelings of insignificance can feel troubling. In those tough times, be assured that questioning your impact is a perfectly normal aspect of being human. There are ways to overcome these feelings. The following have helped me on the days when I’m feeling small.
Write a list of your gifts and talents. Sometimes, it can be hard to appreciate yourself. Unfortunately, we are so quick to dwell on our flaws that it is often a challenge to recognize and celebrate our skills and gifts. Seeing your good qualities written down on paper can help you reflect on the positive impact you are making.
Focus on your immediate social circle. Social media in particular has opened us up to a world of exciting connections. It provides us with the ability to make an impact on those far away from our everyday groups. This is a beautiful thing, but be aware that it can also be isolating. Facebook friends aren’t always real-life friends. Even though you may have thousands of social media connections, who do you call when times get tough? Instead of spending too much time in cyber anonymity, remember to focus on the people you interact with in the real world everyday. Pay close attention to those in your circle, and think about how much you mean to them. (If, upon reflection, you realize your impact hasn’t always been positive, it’s never too late to make a change!) If you care for those closest to you with unconditional love and dedication – your children, spouse, pets, parents, whoever it may be – you’ll feel valued and important.
Help others. This goes along with the last point a little bit. When you remove the focus from yourself, and shift your focus outward to helping others, you immediately feel like you’re part of something bigger than yourself. Volunteering has amazing benefits, and providing a sense of purpose and community is one of them.
Find hobbies that excite and motivate you. Getting lost in a hobby is a great way to make uncomfortable feelings take the backseat. Find your passion and share it with others in a group. Teach others your methods and pass along traditions to the next generation. Hobbies make life exciting and provide a fresh burst of creativity. Keeping your mind occupied is a great way to overcome negative feelings.
It’s true that there are a lot of people on this earth. It’s also true that everyone is a special and unique person who brings a particular set of gifts and experiences to the table. It’s normal to feel small sometimes. But just think: many great attributes of this big, beautiful world would not exist without the unique individual people who are part of it.
Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional, and any opinions expressed in this post are purely tips that have worked for me personally. They should not be considered a substitute for working with a licensed professional.