“What you do may seem insignificant, but it’s important that you do it.” –Mahatma Gandhi
There was a little boy walking the beach and he noticed many starfish scattered all along the shore line. They were all still alive but he knew that if they didn’t get back into the water soon they would all start to die. Carefully and gently he started to pick up each starfish and put them back into the water.
After quite a while an old man came walking along the beach and stopped to notice what the boy was doing. He watched him for a time and finally went up to the boy and asked, “There are millions of starfish throughout this vast ocean, why are you bothering to put those starfish back into the water? “
The boy did not answer at first and kept putting the starfish back into the water. Finally, he held one of the starfish in his hand and he said to the man, “I do it because it might matter to this one starfish.”
“You will always feel insignificant if you never do anything to change the world or another person’s life, other than your own.” ― Shannon L. Alder
The dictionary defines insignificance as littleness, of no consequence, null, inconsequential.
Each one of us has a unique human print and for that matter each living organism has a unique organism print. There is no one like us in the world and yet we all go through struggles of insignificance many times throughout our lives. We are like the starfish on that beach and at times we each want and need someone to care so much and help set us right again and give us the hope and the chance to feel acknowledged and significant.
We are made weak by moments in life that bring us low or in the case of our starfish that bring us to an unfamiliar shoreline out of our normal element.
It is written in the Bible (Corinthians 2, 12:10), “For when I am weak, than am I strong.” For some of us when we are feeling insignificant we look deep within and try to find self-worth but what we find is that we are really in need of a helping hand. In our weakness we become humbled and in our unique way ask for help. In the asking and in the weakness of our feeling of insignificance is where our strength lies. The asking and the weakness is really hope and possibility desiring to flourish. Whether you ask for help from G-d, a trusted friend or colleague, a husband, a wife or a child the lowliness makes us stronger and more compassionate because once feelings and emotions become known they leave a footprint on our souls and in our hearts that won’t ever go away.
To the boy in this story those starfish were not insignificant or invisible or worthless. They were in need and could only ask for help in their unique way by being their brilliant starfish selves and G-d sent the one person who could recognize their beauty and uniqueness and give the starfish the acknowledgment they deserved; their significance.
Sure, some starfish might wash back up on shore not believing in their worthiness but most will seize their moment and live their life as only each one of them can.
“To realize that everything in the universe is connected is to both accept our insignificance and understand our importance in it.” ― Jeffrey Fry
This quote got me to thinking about the purpose of a starfish or Sea star. In doing a bit of research I learned that starfish protect a certain kind of other fish by eating algae and starfish are great at decomposition. Did you know that starfish can regenerate their arms? If they are under attack they can detach the arm being pulled at and escape their attacker. It would take about a year to regrow the entire arm length but they have the ability to do that miraculous thing. Could it be then that starfish are here not only to be beautiful and help keep our oceans clean but to provide research into regeneration of limbs? What a miracle that would be.
What are your unique attributes? What makes you significant? Here are a few ways to find out:
Define who you are: Write down all the things you know for sure about yourself. Get real and above all be honest, then test what you think you know by taking a personality test online. Personality tests are a great aid. Sites like Personality41Q or Humanmetrics or Personalitypathways. Learn about yourself through samplings of sites like these and get a clear picture of who you are and who you want to be.
Learn as you grow: There are things you may know for sure about yourself and the values that you live by but always be open to learning more about who you are. Your significance to the world around you is that you can always try to improve as you grow. Who you are today is not completely going to be who you are in 10 years from now so allow for room to grow and learn and evolve. Try not to stay stuck in old ways of thinking and being.
“Learning is not child’s play; we cannot learn without pain.” ― Aristotle
The past is the past: When you are ready, let what happened in the past live in the past. Your significance plays strong when you can let a painful or hurtful moment of your life have its day in the sun and then die away, never to live long enough to define you. Everyone has a past and everyone has a mountain of memories labeled “my history”. Try not to let your history repeat itself or define who you are growing to be.
“We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.” ― Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here for?
Comparison shopping is a no-no: Comparing yourself to someone else only hurts you every time. Your significance can’t be noticed if you are trying to be like someone else. Sure, you can like certain things about all kinds of people but putting those pieces together to create who you want to be, trying it on for size, that’s where it’s at.
“Don’t compare yourself with anyone in this world … if you do so, you are insulting yourself.” ― Bill Gates
Treat others as you treat yourself: Your significance is in your authenticity, always and your authenticity is who G-d wanted you to be all along. Treat everyone and everything with the same respect you treat yourself. Use the same morals, values and ethics and your authenticity will shine.
“Respect yourself and others will respect you.” ― Confucius, Sayings of Confucius
Dump and recycle days: Allow for some days to really stink. Not every day can be good but we can find a bit of good in every day. Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t quite stick to your plan or value code. Know where you went wrong and make tomorrow a better day because of what you’ve learned.
“Yesterday was not your defining moment. The calendar moved forward; why not you?” ― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience
For me the message is, you are one among many. Return to the world all that you are. Learn and acknowledge your uniqueness and significance. Be humbled when someone acknowledges you and notice how insignificance fades and your inner spirit is born anew.
“Tiny – perhaps.” Rovender kept his eyes fixed on the rings. “Insignificant – never, Eva Nine. No living thing is insignificant.” ― Tony DiTerlizzi, The Search for WondLa
Call To Action
At what times in your life have you felt insignificant?
Who helped you?
How are you humbled in weakness?
What is one thing you can do right now to start feeling your significance?