There’s this pernicious falsehood that’s been promulgated through our society for longer than I can remember. It permeates our culture and impacts us all in ways that we seldom think about. That somehow “being chosen” is better than choosing oneself. It’s everywhere: in our workplaces, in our schools, our religious institutions, and even our family systems. That without the window-dressings of title or some behavior of merit worthy of recognition, our worthiness is somehow in question.

I sometimes get static from well-meaning people about treating everyone as individually special and worthy in their own way. As if devaluing someone using arbitrary criteria is itself worthy of merit. Or the argument against any kind of encouragement or individual valuation devolving into some permutation of the phrase “when everyone gets a trophy, no one wins”.

I’m not against awards or special recognition for merit. On the contrary: more power to them. Do the big things. Be the important person and the rock-star. But recognizing that there is silent desperation and invisible toil that goes on every day is itself a blessing and a curse. When I’m able to see that someone is doing something that I myself wouldn’t want to do, I thank them. I recognize them and try to give them a smile when I can, because sometimes it’s all I’ve got.

That being said, there are billions of people waiting to “be chosen”. Whatever that means. Instead of doing the one thing that they already have within their power, they’ve abdicated responsibility to someone else. A power-broker, a manager, a committee, a partner, a family member—whoever it happens to be.

Everyone has the power to choose themselves. To not just say to themselves, but prove to themselves that they are worthy and that they are loved (even if it’s just themselves). Waiting for someone else to make that choice for you is a sure-fire way to ensure that you’ll be left disappointed.

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