I grew up feeling invisible; always longing to be noticed. The truth was, I was good at almost everything I did. But I was never the best. Being good was just “normal.” Boring even. Being the best, that was valuable.
“Well who cares?” You may say, “There’s only one winner after all.” True enough.
For some, who are noticed all too often, it’s even seen as a curse. Or an annoyance. I remember a boy in my class who won literally every track and field event. The other kids watched in envy as he carried around the stack of red, first place ribbons. And he couldn’t have cared less about them. I remember him ripping those precious ribbons into tiny pieces of thread, as I watched with pain in my heart, wishing he would’ve dropped one accidentally so that I could have just one.
And then there were those dreaded award ceremonies. There was never such a tight feeling in the pit of my stomach as at award ceremonies.
Breath in. Breath out. Hold that breath. Maybe this year…
“This award is for the child who has the highest mark in mathematics.”
Oh! I’m good at that. Maybe this time… Oh. Her again.
“For the best female athlete…” Nope.
“For the most outgoing person…” Nope.
“For the most outstanding musician…” Nope.
“For the model student…” AAANND Nope.
And we watch as Mr and Miss Popular/Smarty Pants go up again and again for three, four, five awards. Yet year after year the message comes ringing out loud and clear:
I am invisible.
My best is not enough.
I am not enough.
The hurt only compacted when the popularity lists came out in the yearbook: Best Eyes. Nope. Best Hair. Nope. Best Voice. Nope. Best Butt. Nope. Best Personality. Nope.
Best Dressed. Oh, good heavens. Double Nope. With a capital N. Bolded and Underlined please.
Those lists, were actually a joke, as the same girl every guy had a crush on would be written down in every single category. As if she was the perfect woman.
Oh, there was that one year I won “Best Nose”. It was the big class joke because my nose was crooked. Everyone thought that one was hilarious.
But I laughed anyway to hide the pain inside.
The reality is, most of us grow up and we have already told ourselves a long time ago: “I will never be anything important. That girl will do great things. Not me.” And we carry this burden on our shoulders for most of our lives, believing we are nobody’s. That we are the sum of our talents which is obviously nothing at all.
But then I became a mother and my perception changed forever.
Because people, I thought my children were the best, because they are the best. But no one else saw it! Except for one child. One child wins the awards. One child seems to have all the talents. One child seems “most likely to succeed”. How interesting then, that this child’s value to me is the same as the four others. When I think about each single child I feel such love and pride for them that I think I may burst. Not because of what they can or can’t do, but because they are unique. They are one of a kind. Were one of them to die, they could never be replaced. There would be no one who could fill their exact shoes. Not because they win all the awards, but because they are who they are.
That is value.
Oh, if each of us would only see ourselves through the eyes of a Mother. There is so much value in each person. Incredible value. For being the one and only you, who no one else can be!
You are irreplaceable.
I am irreplaceable. It took a long time to heal enough to say those words aloud. But, I finally believe them and I will continue to believe them, regardless of what awards I do or do not win. We are more than our abilities. We are more than our skin. We are more than our best features.
And thank heavens, I’m more than my “Best Nose”.