Understanding Our Impact: The Responsibility of Being You
I suppose you’ll never really know what your impact will be. Which means that we should always assume that we are having an impact. Van Gogh died thinking he’d be forgotten and look at him now. The sad Dutchman with one ear, forever solidified in time. A carpenter dies on a Friday evening thousands of years ago and we still go on about it.
You can never know your impact in its totality, so the wise move is to assume your impact is game-changing. Not in some arrogant way, but in the way that we should understand how our choices and lives and behaviours will resonate with someone else.
Someone is always watching you. Not in a creepy way. Maybe in a bad way sometimes – there’ll be people praying for you to fall so they can confirm that they were right about you. Mainly though, there is someone watching you in a good sense. You are someone’s favourite. You inspire someone. There are people who want want to work harder or be better or reach further because of you.
It’s likely that you may never know who this person is, but they’re there. And everything you do, for better or worse, is impacting someone. There’s a pressure with that which is often ignored. It has to be ignored to a certain degree. There’s a responsibility that comes with being you. You are the only one who has that responsibility.
You don’t have to do anything with that, other than be yourself. But Jesus, look how difficult that is in the modern world. People beg you, demand even, that you be someone else. Be skinnier, have different opinions, wear certain clothes, read certain books. March in line with the rest of them. The world has made being an outlier seem like an awful thing. But the outlier is the one that stands out.
Be a scarecrow. And by that I mean be outstanding in your field.
You’ll find peace the day you learn to accept yourself. You’ll know you accept yourself when the opinions of other people don’t impact how you value who you are. You won’t need likes or validation. You won’t need to prove that you’re living your best life on social media. Somehow, I don’t think the best life is the life that craves validation.
That acceptance isn’t easy to come by. Not now, not anymore. How could it be, in a world where being your authentic self is discouraged and almost frowned upon? Becoming part of the hive, the wave, the trend – that’s what’s encouraged – and there’s no you inside of that.
There is a balance to strike though. We learn humility through becoming a small part of something greater, from taking ourselves out of the equation and acting in unison with those around us. That’s the ego death. That’s where your thrive as a beacon of generosity – not for any selfish reasons, but because it’s the right thing to do.
Yet you also need to be the outlier. You need your hero arc, however personal it may be to you. You need your semblance of individuality. We’re a dualistic being in that sense – our happiness comes about by balancing our need for collective acceptance with our need to stand alone, to rise above.
Our desire is to be the outlier, but to also be a part of the greater scheme. Imagine a jigsaw where no two pieces are the same shape. In that example, everyone is totally unique, but when they come together, their combined effort is greater than the sum of their parts.
There’s something in that. There’s a balance to strike. Our happiness, and fulfilment are dependent on the happiness and fulfilment of the people around us, and that’s why our impact – how we make other people feel and think – is one of the most important things we need to consider.
Impacting others positively in turn impacts us, and so looking out for the wellbeing of the people around you is a beneficial endeavour to enhance your own wellbeing.