Feeling Necessary and Needed
“There is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists.”
Has anyone else kind of secretly wished for some crazy, catastrophic thing to happen? Some society altering event. Maybe then I could have my time to shine, my opportunity to show my strengths and be needed to save the day.
While that sentiment was definitely exasperated by absorbing too many Hollywood plotlines, it was a symptom of my search, my deep yearning for an understandable why behind it all—a purposeful direction, an impactful meaning to my being.
At the core of it, it was simple, a desire to feel necessary, to feel needed by some larger, meaningful cause. That was my struggle, my search. Unaware for most of it, my life has always been a quest for that.
What I have realized and accepted these past few years, is that if you sit around waiting your whole life for something to happen to make you the person you aspire to be, you’ll never grow to be it.
I am not going to find what I’m searching for through any external influencing circumstance. I am only going to find it by looking the other way, inwards.
In that void, many of us, myself included, build that purpose and direction around a comparison to someone else. We create an ideal to strive for based on the assumed perception of someone else’s life. Unfortunately, this has only been exasperated through the prevalence of social media.
As always, I can only truly speak from my own experience, and without ever feeling needed or having a direction, I would often find myself comparing my life to others. They just seemed to have it all figured out—their formula for happiness and connection was simple—it came easy to them, or at least my interpretation of how they portrayed themselves.
It just never made sense to me.
In that vein, I’d like to share a story with you from my first “quarter-life crisis”, from my times traveling through SE Asia. I had basically quit my life’s direction (opening Monty’s Deli Pub) and set out on a solo adventure to explore who I was and what I cared about.
At one point within my first month abroad, I felt completely lost and raw. I had been in Pai, a city in Northern Thailand, for quite a few days, and my travel buddy for the past week, Mark from Amsterdam, had just departed. I felt utterly alone.
I went to the same breakfast place I’d gone to each morning since arriving in Pai, and as I’m eating my usual breakfast, avocado toast with a tomato salad on top, two backpackers, an Australian woman, Em, and an Indian woman, Neha, join my table.
I was journaling at the time and just vulnerable enough, as anyone who has solo traveled will know, to immediately and deeply open up. After I shared most everything I had in my heart, the Australian woman tells me this story, a story that still holds deep meaning to me to this day.
“You are an orange tree.
Your entire life you have looked at the mango tree and said what a beautiful tree that is, how can I be just like that?!? Look at how much success comes naturally, look at how many friends surround it, look at all the love and attention it receives from everyone it interacts with.
You exclaim, "you’re a special tree, you mango tree you, that’s the kind of tree I will be one day."
So that’s what you work to become. You spend all of your thoughts and energy on being just like that mango tree. Finally, you have a vision to work towards and you know where you're going.
But the more you try, the more things don’t seem to work out. As your countless efforts to be exactly like the mango tree pile up, you just don’t ever feel the level of fulfillment you see in them. The harder you go in that direction, the further away from that initial hope you feel.
You just aren’t finding success and happiness trying to be like a mango tree.
And then it hits you, you’re a motherfucking orange tree! No matter what you do, you can’t be a mango tree.
So for the first time, you look inwards, and begin understanding yourself as an orange tree.
Slowly that deep introspection and understanding leads to you accepting yourself as an orange tree. All the things you've imagined as good, or bad, or neutral; simple acceptance and comfortability with you just as you are—an orange tree.
Things move forward and you realize, wow, life is pretty amazing as an orange tree, why was I ever trying to be the mango tree?
Then, something truly beautiful happens. You begin to see all of your gifts as an orange tree, all that in you just being you, have so much love to give and receive, and the power to change lives. Now, that understanding, which grew to acceptance, has transformed into a deep love for yourself.
With this self-love, everything changes. You decide that from then on, you’re never going to try to be like the mango tree, you’re just going to try to be the best orange tree possible!
For the first time in your life, you are a beautiful orange tree spreading all of your greatness throughout the world and you wouldn’t rather be anyone or anywhere else.
You now see the mango tree, and instead of feeling jealousy, resentment, or self-doubt, you simply see a beautiful mango tree being the best mango tree possible. And they look back at you, and for the first time, they see what a beautiful orange tree is truly capable of.”
This story has meant a lot to me, and it’s meaning has evolved over time. Right now, it is the belief that every tree in the orchard has a necessary part to play. Every tree is unique, special, and capable of both receiving and giving so much love, they just need to deeply connect with themselves.
Moving on from my urge to continue using this orchard analogy, it is not just that every individual is capable, it is that each of us are worthy, meaningful, and necessary.
For Foundation to truly create the community and future I know it will, it takes all of us to come together and co-create the experiences that help us learn, connect, and grow.
I thank you all for being an integral part of Foundation's community journey. You’re all necessary and needed, let’s build something beautiful together.