During my most recent conflict of conscience, I called a close friend (I have painfully few of those now) to get help picking my brain. I knew what I had to do but I needed to hear it out loud to make sure I had covered all my bases.
The crux of my inner conflict was a familiar one. I wanted to leave something that I was part of but I felt like my role was really critical and I didn’t want to deal with the guilt of the thing falling apart once I left. So I knew what I needed to do but I was being held back by my self-imposed sense of self-importance. Mind you, I wasn’t even aware that this was the case.
So my friend dutifully listened to my tirade and when I was done she made a single comment.
“Ronni, you’re not that special.”
In the shattered silence that followed, I felt my entire world spin and shift crazily as I absorbed what she had just said.
By the way, if you know me well you will know that there are very few people that would have the balls to speak to me in that way and know that we would still remain friends. This is one of those people.
Her comment was shocking and almost hurtful to put it mildly. I felt flabbergasted and more than a little flustered. The feeling didn’t last too long though.
You see, I have recently trained myself to separate situations from the feelings they evoke in me. This allows me to make clearer and clinical decisions without getting my knickers in a twist over how it has made me feel.
I still have to deal with the feelings though, and I usually opt to deal with them separately at a later time once the decision is out of the way. It’s purely experimental and clearly yet another benefit of growing older and wiser.
So I was prepared when she resumed speaking and bluntly told me, in not so many words that the world does not revolve around me. As she spoke I saw my life with such clarity and things literally began to fall into place.
For most of my life, I had unknowingly convinced myself that I was indispensable and that whatever value I created couldn’t possibly be replicated. I basically believed I was irreplaceable. Laughable I know, but that was my story.
Now while this may be very flattering on one hand, (true or perceived), it’s also one of the most limiting states a person could ever place themselves in. In my case, this singular thought had kept me imprisoned for most of my adult life.
This was one of the reasons why I took so long to quit my job despite being generally ready for a change. I honestly believed that the department would fall apart without me. It didn’t. Go ahead and roll your eyes.
Some of the businesses I had immersed myself into were just as hard to walk away from; why? My sense of self-importance. I won’t even get into relationships in my past that I had clung to way past their sell by date, just because I thought the person would go into a vegetative state without me.
Interestingly, despite all the people moving on after I eventually left (and not falling into pieces), it still hadn’t occurred to me that I wasn’t that important or special. Till my dear friend enlightened me.
It was really a light bulb moment; liberating in that I finally realized that I no longer needed to cling to situations and relationships that no longer served me or added value to me. I am not that special after all. I’m just an ordinary, run-of-the-mill regular person. Nothing extraordinary here.
These are words which, if you had uttered to me a decade ago, would have left me deeply resentful. After all, I had lived my life being told I was special. Now, they are beautiful words of liberation and illustrate freedom and a world of choices that is open to me.
These words now allow me to create clear boundaries within my work and my relationships. I now know where my part ends and beyond that I am able to completely detach and move on.
They have been especially life altering in my role as a wife and mother. I used to juggle thousands of balls in the air, believing that my family would fall apart if I dropped even a a single one. The day I fell sick for three days was the day I knew how wrong I was. Everyone was quite alright including my youngest daughter; no one starved or bled to death.
It gave me a whole new perspective on how much we torture ourselves, just because we think the world cannot exist without us. Well, I have news for you – the world will move on with barely a glance in your direction.
I have now freed myself to make decisions just for me and I change my mind whenever I feel like it. It’s a whole new world out there, not having to hang on to self-importance and I am thoroughly enjoying the blank canvas.
YOU ARE NOT THAT SPECIAL.
The most beautiful words that anyone can ever have the privilege of hearing.
But only for those who are ready to hear them.
P.S. I can lend you my friend in case you need someone to say the words to you. She’s quite brutal.