Yesterday, I got my renewal bill from WordPress, the platform I use to publish this blog. I realized that meant I’d been at this writing for almost a full year. I remember when I woke up on January 1st, I felt compelled to start doing something new as I moved into the second half of my first year as a widow. I think widow is a detestable word. Then again, I don’t think wife is so great, either. Anyway, only a scant two weeks after I’d finally pulled off the curating of Michael’s interesting and layered life and thrown a massive homage to him, I wanted out of my comfort zone, choosing to share my thoughts about all kinds of issues with a faceless audience. I figured that somehow, whatever I mulled about would resonate with someone, somewhere. To date, my 65 posts have been viewed 5317 times by people in 40 countries. Starting out, I would never have guessed any of those numbers were possible. I try to imagine what possesses people to read my tales. I suspect that the interest starts out as a random choice and that for one reason or another, some invisible filament briefly connects me to the people who choose to keep reading the ideas that tumble around in my head.
A lot of what I’ve written is for my children and theirs. So often the little events of our lives get lost in the daily grind. I want my family to know what I haven’t had a chance to tell them. They might laughingly say that it’s unlikely that I’ve forgotten to tell them something. That’s okay with me. I do tend toward storytelling. But, additionally, I think this is probably an attempt to keep both myself and Michael from disappearing. With him gone and memories in older people usually fading, I’m in a rush to record things before I forget them. The truth is, most of us won’t be remembered for some huge contribution we made to our world. The number of famous people is minuscule compared to the multitude of unknowns. That doesn’t mean we haven’t touched lives, that we haven’t been worthy or rather, worth remembering. But what does that mean, exactly? How do you know what your worth is when there are so many ways of defining it?
A dictionary definition for self-worth reads:
confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect. When you look up “worth” itself, you get a few descriptions. The first is: monetary value. The second is:
the value of something measured by its qualities or by the esteem in which it is held.
I think how we regard ourselves reflects a wide range of comparative tools.
For some people, the number of titles they hold has value. For others, the amount of material goods and money they’ve acquired is the standard. Another crowd values recognition from an external audience which feeds their personal sense of self-esteem. On and on it goes. And of course I know it’s not all that simple. We’re more complicated than that – at least I hope so. What I do think is simple is that there is a commonly shared desire to have made an impact on someone or something in our lives. To know that we were here, in our fleeting time on the planet and that our presence was noticed and felt, at least a little bit.
Life should have meaning. At least, I think it should. But my meaning and someone else’s version of meaning can be oceans apart. For example, I don’t have a stack of credentials. There are no letters after my name which signify my accomplishments. Except for this insignificant blog, none of what I’ve done, or who I am, is visible to the greater part of the world. I like it that way. I’ve always preferred to operate in the background. If the people close to me chose to live their lives in a public way, I was a great promoter. When Michael decided to run for public office, I was his campaign manager. I did it three times. But when asked to consider a position like that for myself, the answer was always no. I recently saw a friend’s social media post that referenced a personality type called “an extroverted introvert.” I think that’s a pretty fair assessment of who I am. The irony is that Michael, who was on a public stage in many capacities in his life, was an introverted introvert on the personal level. Of the two of us, there is no doubt that I was brimming with self-confidence while he was more insecure and uncertain. He frequently asked me why I thought so much of myself when there was no discernible evidence to support my opinion. I knew the answer to that one, although the question itself made me laugh. What I feel about myself hasn’t been dependent on the opinions of others since I was a young teenager. I left the world of being defined by outside sources behind, after navigating all the perils of high school society. I was so done with other people’s opinions. I shed those like tattered clothing when I left home at age seventeen. And good riddance. I chose to draw on what’s inside me rather than what’s outside. I’m not saying my way is the right way. It’s what works for me. Everyone gets to pick their own path and their own tools on navigating it.