Nobody Cares About You as Much as You Do

On Tuesday morning, I stumbled along the ten-mile stretch from my bed to my desk and joined Art 101 over Zoom. As my professor displayed the pieces we had done over the weekend on her shared screen, I realized I was the only one who had done the assignment wrong. 

 

Isn’t that a scary word paired with “only one”? Only one, wrong. 

 

We were supposed to simulate famous masterpieces like Van Gogh’s- not just create our own scribbles- which was what I did. My heart dropped as she called on me, and I reluctantly unmuted myself. “Um... I think I did this assignment wr-”

She clicked on my piece. 

To my horror, my artwork suddenly looked ten times uglier than it did the night before. I realized I had also forgotten to rotate it, so everyone had to tilt their heads to look at this sideways photo. My messily cut-out shapes and pencil marks looked senseless next to everyone else’s matured creations. Blood rushed to my face, and I knew everyone could feel my overt embarrassment as I attempted to explain my mess for thirty long seconds. 

Ugh. Einstein popped off so hard when he said time is relative. My mind dragged these three painful minutes out for the next two days. While they probably forgot about it right after class, I grimaced, winced, and wondered how I’d missed her instructions, and if my professor and peers thought less of me, my intelligence, and work ethic. 

I knew no one cared, I knew they weren’t thinking about me or my small mistake nearly as much as I was, but I still couldn’t shake it.

It was never about the art, the grade, the class, or my reputation- it was about my need for perfection in all of life- a.k.a, insecurity. I weigh my worth by the number of times a month I am infallible, correct, good, and approved, by both myself and others.

 

At their cores, narcissism and insecurity are the same.

If I didn’t think less of myself, I would think about myself less. 

 

If we were confident in our worth, we would not feel the need to be perfect, appreciated, or validated; therefore, we wouldn’t think of ourselves this much. During icebreakers, we would listen to our classmates wholeheartedly instead of worrying about how we’re going to present ourselves next. When we read aloud in class, we would pay more attention to the meaning of the text than the sound of our own voice, or the fact that we just messed up a bit on that word. I wouldn’t mull over every conversation, flaw, awkward mishap, or what people think of my personality or appearance- I would think about the matter at hand. I would think about others, how to understand them, and what they need- because I already have what I need; I already am what I need. 

 

Surface-level security is trusting that I’m capable, and that’s good; however, I’m talking about dignity, the type of self-respect that does not waver in the face of a tsunami. Dignity is knowing that even if I am the most incompetent person in the room, I am still worthy, valuable, and enough. Dignity is knowing if I am the smartest, most respected person in the room, I am still the same level of worthy, valuable, and enough. Our worth doesn’t increase when we are doing well or feeling good, and it doesn’t decrease when we aren’t. Humility, confidence, and empathy go together the same way pride, insecurity, and judgment do. 

 

When I know that nothing can change my worth, what could make me doubt myself? What could make me judge myself? What could make me think about myself more than I have to, or think about myself in a way that I shouldn’t? Nothing. The power this key holds is unfathomable. 

So finally, my cloudy mind returned from the hell that is overthinking and reunited with rationality to remember that almost everyone is struggling with the same thing in worrying about their own perfection. No one has the time to think about me, my life, awkwardness, Instagram posts, failures, successes, or art pieces as much as I do. That’s a relief. 

And, through every moment of every day, through my egotism, insecurity, emotions, flaws, blunders, and triumphs, my worth has remained the same. That is peace.