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Because you're worth it

Today is “Evaluate Your Life Day.”

Perhaps some of us have long done this.

Perhaps some of us began doing this given the time, space, and isolation that COVID 19 has foisted upon us.

Perhaps some of us see it as an exercise in futility.

Perhaps the word “evaluate” conjures a vision of grades and boxes to tick – the higher or lower the numbers, the higher or lower your contribution – or worth – in the larger scheme of things.

Even the synonyms suggested for the word “evaluate” somehow suggest a need for a tangible or visible worth: “appraise”, “calculate”, “gauge”, “grade.”

There is no doubt that each of us needs to take stock of our individual journeys sometimes to see how far we have come or need to go. However, taking stock when we don’t feel worthy of ourselves is bound to set us up for disappointment always.

Hence, I’d rather focus on the root word “value”, and the need for each of us to appreciate our own value first.

I’m reminded of an encounter I had many moons ago when I first moved to Germany, and was trying to make sense of a new language, people, culture, and way of life. I must stress though that today I do understand that not all parts and inhabitants of Germany act or react uniformly. And that I have sole control over how I react to anything or anyone.

Anyway, our first home base was in an area where people were, well, pretty morose. Smiling at strangers wasn’t a done thing and unfortunately for me, I smile easily. Ditto greeting or making small talk. Now add, -5°C weather and skies darker than Mordor, and it’s a recipe for swigging G&Ts at 10 am!

Consequently, I found myself questioning my own likeability as attempts to strike conversations were oftentimes met with surly responses or stares that froze air. But try as I might, I couldn’t stop smiling or greeting whenever I had to deal with someone. And then feel terribly unworthy when that courtesy wasn’t returned.

So back to my story: I used to do the weekly grocery shopping at a large mall that also had smaller stalls in its periphery where, amongst others, there was a Turkish delicacy stall. It became routine for me to visit this stall because they had a great spread of herby cream cheeses, savoury snacks, and such. The lady who ran the stall would at least make eye contact with me and greet me, and was generally less laconic than the cashiers who manned the tills at the mall. Over time, we’d progressed to small talk about the weather or whatever news that made the headlines that day. I was still learning German back then, so my vocabulary was woefully limited too.

Then, I left for a three-week Christmas break in Malaysia and returned in the New Year. The fridge needed restocking, and so as usual I headed for the mall and eventually the Turkish stall. As I manoeuvred my shopping cart towards the stall, the lady spotted me and exclaimed, “There you are! I’d wondered what had happened to you! I have to tell you that every time you visit my stall with that smile, the sun rises for me!”

THAT was my epiphany. She went on to tell me that she’s had customers who’d frequented her stall for years, but who’d barely exchanged glances with her except to ask for and pay the bill. Consequently, she reacted to that by becoming less chatty although that went against her nature. And I was an exception, and she’d started looking forward to seeing me.

This EVALUATION by a complete stranger made me see the VALUE in myself.

And that is my core message for today. We are part of an ecosystem where each of us matters. Even when we cannot see or realise how we impact the others.

We’re often framed to think of impact in terms of expanse: Darwin and the theory of evolution; Gandhi and satyagraha (or non-violent resistance); Lennon and “Imagine”.

That is why for this instalment I chose the statement above: “Perhaps you were born for such a time as this.” While it refers to the Biblical character of Judith who became an unexpected heroine, the message is that our value add to this world may sometimes not even happen on a regular basis or on a global platform or to the adulation of millions.

However, there will be occasions when only you and your uniqueness will be called upon, and we may knowingly or unknowingly impact or inspire someone who needed exactly our uniqueness to fill a void or get an answer or simply be uplifted. It could even be as simple as a smile or a kind compliment.

So, for today, sit back and simply celebrate YOU. Because someone somewhere believes you’re worth it.

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