The Importance of Feeling Insignificant

Of all the things to feel, feeling insignificant is one of the worst, isn’t it? That all-consuming sensation of unimportance, that nobody would notice if you were gone, or that we make little to no impact on the world.

We spend a good chunk of our lives trying not to feel insignificant be becoming the best in something, or creating something people will remember. For some of us, the idea of leaving this world without making an impression on it is terrifying. On some level, in some way, we all want to be remembered. So the idea of embracing the feeling of insignificance might sound alien, and perhaps mad, but there are times when experiencing this might do us some good.

Three years ago, I had a mental breakthrough. My life so far had been filled with constant reminders of what I should be ashamed of, by people who had expectations of me that were selfish at best, and harmful at worst. These “failings” became focal points in my life around which my anxiety and depression revolved. They seemed so big, and so important at the time.

But then, I left my home country to backpack around South America, and I saw the world for what it really was: huge. For the first time, I felt tiny. Standing on top of giant mountains, and in the middle of centuries old cities, I became a miniscule speck in time and space. My “failings” disintegrated, turned into dust in the wind that no longer burdened me with their weight. What felt like giant failures had actually been shoved under a microscope and presented to me as something infinitely more than they were.

Insignificance freed me.

Empathy, and awareness of the impact of our actions, we must always cast aside the little faux pas that we either blow out of proportion for ourselves, or that others blow up for us. We are sometimes wedged between “it’s only a small thing, it doesn’t matter” and “enjoy the little things” that it’s easy to misunderstand what we need to prioritise in our lives.

Our energy is limited, our time is valuable and our worth is too great to be burdened by the little things we do wrong. Because once we allow this to happen once, we might make a bad habit out of punishing ourselves for tiny problems that we could just as easily learn from by forgiving ourselves.

Let’s do something good in the world, and know it matters. Let’s make mistakes and cast them aside, taking only the lesson we learned from them with us. Let’s allow ourselves to feel small every once in a while, and show up our fear and shame for what they really are: insignificant.

Rosie Wylor-Owen

Rosie Wylor-Owen is the author of the urban fantasy short story The Witch's Touch and has had her work published in several literary magazines. In addition to running her book blog "The Secret Library", Rosie writes articles regularly for Unwritten and Project Wednesday, and her debut urban fantasy novel The Essence of Souls.

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