When I was young, my mother used to say “I just feel so unnecessary,” meaning that she just didn’t feel up to par that day or that she didn’t have a particular focus for her day.
I grew accustomed to it over the years. In fact, many times people would hear me use the same expression. The words merely represented the blah day that lay before me.
And on those occasions, those who overheard me say it were incensed, and chastised me for feeling unnecessary. “You’re very necessary,” they’d tell me. I would explain and all was well with the world.
“Even the most caring people can get tired of being taken for granted.” ~~ Nishan Panwar
Today, those same words could take on a new meaning for many people. They could easily represent a feeling if irrelevance in a person’s life that day. What makes a person feel relevant? That’s what I chose to look at for this week.
Does irrelevance equal being taken for granted? In some cases, yes, I think it could.
If a person is seen only as a housekeeper, a good student, a contributor to the church’s maintenance, etc. without receiving any acknowledgement of other value, a feeling of irrelevance could well creep into that person’s sense of self.
For instance, a child who has always been the dutiful, the selfless, and the good student becomes the invisible one among the siblings. Why? Because that one doesn’t make waves, doesn’t stand out for attention.
Wallflowers and those who “toe the line” can feel a sense of irrelevancy simply because no one pays attention to them unless they don’t fulfill well-established expectations.
Of course, the same can be true of the reverse. The child who never seems to walk to the same beat as the rest in the family can feel unnecessary, too. If the only attention one gets is for what they screw up, they only hear about what they don’t do right.
Their drummer may have a Latin beat instead of country or a comic/graphic book bend rather than literary flair. They might be hopeless at sports, but terrific at art. Yet, they gain no gold stars for what they’re good at.
Many older adults, especially those who’re moving into their last years, fight with depression due to no longer being necessary.
Each of us requires that someone else acknowledge our purpose in living on a regular basis. Everyone needs to know they matter to someone for something. Without that verbal and emotional re-enforcement, we slide into that well of the irrelevant.
The old have many functions: grandparents to act as mentors, teachers of times gone by and lessons learned, philosophers with a life-time of experience to draw on, and examples showing us the potential of futures awaiting us.
If I learn nothing else in this life, I’ve come to understand that every living thing on this planet has purpose and relevancy. The Butterfly Effect was an early lesson for me.
Each of us, regardless of our station in life or our personal sense of importance, has something no one else does, had learned a lesson unique to us, and can contribute something to others until the day we die.
It’s up each of us to acknowledge that reality and honor the role of others, as well as ourselves, each day. Sometimes it only takes a caring hand or a smile. Neither act costs the giver anything but attention.
How will you use your attention today? Let me know. I’d be interested in knowing how you honor others.