What does it mean to matter? Does it have to be in relation to someone else? Or is it something that can be determined inherent within all of us?
To these questions, I am unsure of the ultimate answer. However, it has always been prevalent to me that the question bears more weight than the answer itself. So, what does it mean to matter to oneself? To others?
To illustrate this question and to hopefully find an answer I have a story. It’s probably going to sound a little strange, but hang in there. It goes like this:
I observe a lot of things. Not like a scientist because I literally suck at science and math but small things like the way sunlight hits the trees on the front quad at school, the energy of chatter rising and falling among friends, and given and made first impressions.In the long summer hours filled with nothing but my own memories and daydreams, I thought about all the people I met in only one year. There is one I can recall quite clearly:
I was on my way to a Spanish conversation class with a friend even though I didn’t really need to be there. Then, all of a sudden there was this girl waving at us. She knew my friend but she was also
smiling at me! She waves hello. Shit. I don’t know her but she knows me. Her hair is this fantastic color and the freckles on her cheeks reflect the fallen Autumn leaves littered on the sidewalk; they look like stars.
What do I do? She asks a question that I don’t remember anymore but it was probably a normal standard question. And I respond with something about a beached whale…real cool, I know.But she doesn’t seem offended. Instead, tilting her head up to the sky, she laughs. It blends with the orange and violet undertones of the sky and the leaves and the trees and the sun. Ok, it’s time now, and I ask for her name.
“Meryn,” she says.
“Ok I’ll remember that.” And I never forgot.
Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to talk with her much after that. I wish one day to be that full of the present invention of joy and happiness as Meryn seemed to be on that one fading afternoon. Whatever she may have been truly feeling I’ll never know, but I’m know that I’m grateful for being able to meet her.
I sent this story to Meryn herself before I published this and while I felt a little strange in doing so, I also felt it to very important that she knew about it. Perhaps it is the fact that she isn’t going to return to school next year. I mean, we interact with the people in our lives on an everyday basis thinking about the ways the people in our relationships mean to us.But what of the people we don’t know so well? Do they or even should they mean anything to us? We never talked much, Meryn and I, but she made a lasting impressing on me. So to answer this question that I asked at the beginning: What does it mean to matter?
Even though I didn’t know Meryn very well, I’m still going to miss her. I guess you could say she mattered to me, and to me this answers the question. Your worth or anyone else’s cannot be measured. Not by the amount of friends you have or the number of Christmas cards you get or how many people sit with you in the dining hall.
I’ve attended funerals where I don’t really know the person who died, but she still had an impact on my life and the hundred other people at the service. Why do we wait? While a person’s worth cannot be measured, you, me, us need to be reminded every now and then that we are appreciated, wanted, and valued. And for all intents and purposes, I take no shame or loss of pride in letting Meryn or anyone else know.
Where this starts, then, is within yourself. Self-respect, self-worth, and self-value. While I wish that Meryn would be staying at school, the fact is that she’s not. She’s leaving and for that I commend her. Recently I said goodbye to an institution that I valued for many years because I thought I could mean something to it. I never did. I’m not mad or angry at the people who couldn’t even remember my name after five years. But I am a little angry at myself. Why? Because I believed that if I gave them my services, my personality, and my time, my worth in their eyes might increase.
Here’s the thing though: Self-depreciation cannot be traded for appreciation. It’s a false system of belief. I’m not saying to just give up on a job or an internship, but know yourself and don’t lose hope that your current situation is as good as it’s going to get. For me, my memory of meeting Meryn is a reminder to never take life too seriously and to be yourself, because there are going to be those really great people who will accept you for who you are. And once you realize your worth, others will begin to notice too. Just remember to give back and let the people around you know how much they mean to you! 🙂
Ok, so this was something that’s been weighing on my mind. Not to leave on a somber or wistful note, here’s some Calvin and Hobbs