I love this poem by Emily Dickinson, I’m Nobody! Who are you? The dearest part of the poem to me are the first three lines:
I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell!
There’s so much of my own life experience in those three lines. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, I’ve had to work through crippling lack of self-worth. I haven’t gotten to the point that I think I’m marvelous, but I have an understanding of myself that I’ve come to embrace: I’m a ‘background player’. I don’t need to be–and would rather not be! – in the spotlight. I am perfectly happy to let you shine, front-and-center, and applaud you the whole time with genuine love and appreciation in my heart.
Growing up in middle and high school, I thought initially that I wanted to be in the Popular Crowd. Over time, I realized I was just as happy being one-on-one with a best friend, in our own private world with a million inside jokes that no one else would understand. Somehow, I would manage to find that one person that was a ‘nobody’, too. Then there really was the pair of us, being Nobody’s together.
As an adult, I most cherish my relationships with my friends– they are the family I craved so much growing up. I remember asking a childhood friend a very childish question: “Who’s your best friend?”. Her response is one that I have never, ever forgotten. She said, “Oh…I don’t consider myself as having a best friend. I see something in each of my friends that I appreciate and respect”. Out of my childish question was born an answer that forever changed my way of looking at people.
I realized it’s not about being important in my own eyes or someone else’s. We need Nobody’s and Somebody’s to make the world go round. It’s not money that keeps Planet Earth churning, it’s the relationship that Nobody’s and Somebody’s share. Either you’re a world-renowned artist or doctor, or you’re the person who loves and collects the art or receives the life-changing surgery.
The Somebody’s wouldn’t be who they are without the support of the Nobody’s. Either we’re on the stage or in the audience, and we need both for the performance to be a great experience.
I’d like my children to grow up knowing that whether they become engineers or stay-at-home mamas, they are holding front-and-center stage status to me. I want them to grow up walking that path that will lead them to find their own potential…even if it means they have to backtrack and take a different path. As long as they do it with dignity, they will always be Somebody to me.
CJ Heath has embraced being a Nobody. She loves the Somebody’s who have really made the world a better place, and loves the Nobody’s for the same reason. There’s the pair of us, making the world a better place!