John Hawkins has a post here at PJ Media on the “5 Things Most Men Have to Learn the Hard Way in Life” which I found interesting. However, his second point about how the world values you for what you can do, not what you are troubled me:
2. The World Values You for What You Can Do, Not Who You Are
I was raised on a diet of fairy tales, Saturday morning cartoons, and after-school specials where the good guy always won. Heart, loyalty, and decency always prevailed and the good guys came out on top. I took that mentality into the world and found out that no one gave a cr*p about any of those things. Well, actually that’s not quite true. People do appreciate all of those qualities, but only as an extra added bonus. Being a movie star, a famous athlete, or looking like a Greek god beats being the world’s kindest, most decent and most loyal non-celebrity 99 times out of 100. People hate to admit that because it makes them feel petty and shallow. But when you look at the choices people make over and over, it becomes clear that surface qualities beat deep qualities nearly every time unless people can be conspicuously deep enough to slide it into their social media. If you want to be valued by other humans (besides your family), then it will primarily be because of what you bring to the table compared to other humans. Are you better looking than other people? Richer? More famous? Are you in a cool profession? Are you an exceptional athlete? What are you better than other people at doing? That’s a hard truth to come to terms with because it means you have to produce, perform and prove your worth on a regular basis. That’s a heavy load to carry, but it’s the world as it is, not as we wish it to be.
I think it is one thing to recognize that people are shallow but it’s another to change who you are to somehow “prove to others” that you are of value, as John seems to suggest. Why should you?
So in order to be liked or valued by others, you have to be a celebrity and have a cool job? Why? And why do you have to prove your worth to anyone? What happened to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Isn’t that the real American dream? Now the dream is to become a shallow celebrity and look good to please others and try to prove your worth to them? No thanks.
Here is the real life lesson men or anyone else would be better off learning: your worth and value does not come from whether other humans like you because you are “cool.” It comes from feeling that your days here are of value to you and you are pursing the kind of life that you deem important.
There is a gravesite near where I live and whenever I walk by it, I stop to read a young woman’s gravestone:
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Don’t be afraid to be yourself and to follow your instincts about the kind of life and career you want. Looking to others to validate you will only bring angst and heartache. I am not saying that others should have no impact on your decisions but ultimately, as French author André Gide says: “It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.”