It’s All About You
If you’ve ever been to a professional sporting event you’ve probably witnessed this scene: The game has grown decidedly boring and overlong, eyes are beginning to glaze, smart phones emerge from pockets, and minds begin to wander toward post-game festivities. Snap back to reality, and all of a sudden the cameraman has honed in on your section! You find yourself instantly bursting with enthusiasm – dancing, jumping, and waving. Your face (YOUR face!) is on the jumbotron! Nothing else that happens in the game can top that triumphant moment when all eyes were on you. You may not remember the score of the game or even the teams that were playing, but that one moment where you were the center of attention is unforgettable.
Or take an embarrassing moment from your past – you probably have agonized over the moment far after everyone else has forgotten it even happened. I remember feeling intensely embarrassed early in high school when a girl I thought was excitedly waving at me turned out to be trying to get the attention of the people behind me. For me it was demoralizing and humiliating. But ten minutes and over ten years later, nobody else had even the slightest memory of the event.
More painful still are those moments where a careless, calloused word or demeaning remark inflict lasting impressions on our psyche. Though the speaker surely never meant their words to leave such an indelible impression, many of us were shaped by and cannot forget them. Decades later, we bear invisible scars that time has not erased.
The common thread throughout these experiences is an obsession with ourselves. As exuberant or embarrassed or wounded we may feel looking back, all of these are solely personal experiences; and the deflating, relieving, or hurtful truth is that most likely we are the only ones to remember them. In reality, our preoccupation with ourselves runs much, much deeper than any other person’s interest in us. The overwhelming amount of our thoughts and behaviors revolve around ourselves, to a point where we delude ourselves into imagining everything that happens actually and eventually is all about us.
That may sound a bit selfish, but really not that bad, right? The problem is that the object of our greatest attention is immensely flawed. We may be self-deprecating or full of pride, but either way we are focused on an imperfect creature. Some of us look inside and see the scars, imperfections, failures, and missed opportunities. Others of us narcissistically shower ourselves with praises and accolades– alienating ourselves from others. Either way, our obsession with self creates a madness of self-absorption that pervades our culture, our thought processing, and our experience of life.
At the center of our little universe, we constantly look to our wants, needs, and passions as the only solution for the dissatisfaction we may feel with life. But instead of assisting us in this endeavor, we soon may realize that everyone else is doing the same thing – not looking to fill us, but to fill themselves.
Clearly, moments of attention should be enjoyed. Moments of embarrassment can serve as lessons. Moments of pain may result in growth, forgiveness and healing. But at the end of the day, who else cares? Maybe everything is all about us as individuals; and as you navigate through the stimulating and mundane stretches of life, if you can somehow maximize the excitement, indulgence, and gratification, that will constitute a life well lived and a cause worth rallying behind. Maybe that’s all there is. Maybe there’s something more.