By Sophie Corbett, TIWP College Program
“All human needs are an expression of life’s energy flowing through us. Needs are the very thing that connect us to life itself.” — Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, NVC
I want to matter. I want to be heard, respected, trusted, accepted, and known. I need all those things. I need those things the same way I need a warm bed or cooked food. I won’t die without it, unlike food or shelter, but I’ll feel empty. And living a life where all you can feel is emptiness and nothingness is worse than dying because you’re already dead but you’re also alive and experiencing what that feels like. So it’s not that I want to matter, I need to matter.
But who do I need to matter to? My parents? My friends? The world? The truth is, most of all, I need to matter to myself. In life there will be a lot of people who you matter to, but there will also be people who couldn’t care less about you. If you don’t matter to yourself, it is only those people who don’t care about you that you will focus on. When we believe that we’re worthless our minds trick us into believing that that’s what other people believe about us too. When we believe something so steadfastly about ourselves it is hard to believe that others see us differently.
So we go out of our way to find and cherry pick information to support the claim that we don’t matter: the text message that was a little off, the friend who cancelled plans last minute, the fight you got into with your sibling. We seem to forget all the times we have spent with our friends and family where our hearts have been so full of love and life. We so badly want to matter but our brains won’t let us believe it because we are swimming in a pool of self-doubt and hatred. If we could just find the courage to step out of the pool and surround ourselves with self-love instead, we would see that not only do we matter to ourselves, but there are a whole bunch of other people who care and love us and that we matter to.
The funny thing is, I always thought that my intense desire to be accepted and understood was unique to me. But wanting to matter is a universal human need. In fact, when I think about it, most feelings and emotions are universal. We’re all individuals with vastly different lives but with very similar needs and desires. To know that you are never truly alone is one of the best feelings in the world.