Where No One Knows Your Name

One of my favorite T.V. shows of yester-year is "Cheers".  The opening theme song says "You want to go where everybody knows your name! And they're always glad you came!"  When a character by the name of "Norm" who represented the every day "normal" guy came into the bar, everyone hollered "Norm!". 

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Deep down, no matter who you are or where you live, most of us secretly want to be known so affectionately to illicit such a response as Norm.  Even if one enjoys a life of hiding behind a clever mask or staying in the background, I believe that has more to do with adaptation around how their reality appears to them than a preference.  Just look at the rise of social media.  First, there was "My Space" with personal profiles and blogs. Next came Facebook which was a wave of self centered neediness that many of us still ride (myself included).  The title "Facebook" says it all--we want people to see our face (i.e. who we are). Or for many others, at least, the face we may want others to see is one we create, that we project and want people to see more so than our real face. Then came Twitter.  Twitter is a constant, rolling news feed about what? Ourselves.  Instagram is basically a photo diary of everything we see in a day (as if others care to see it).  

A song made long ago really hits the nail on the head in a generation where Selfie Sticks weren't even on people's wish lists.  It is called "I Just Want You To Know Who I Am". Take a listen, 

As this song sings about, many of us don't want our brokenness seen by the world but we do desire to be known by others.  It creates a dynamic tension that drive some to silent waiting to be rescued by a perfect friend or set of friends or lover.  It can drive others to desperate cries of being a victim which pushes people away rather than attract them.  For some, they sit in passive aggressive states of bitterness over not being "sparkling" enough to attract others and thus build up the poor self esteem they are plagued with.

What do you do when the world around you won't recognize you? Doesn't seem to care?  Realize that I know of what I speak.  I grew up one of those "last guys" picked on team sports. The person who couldn't climb the gym rope.  I was somewhat fortunate because I did have a sense of humor that garnered me some attention.  I also loved kids so adults loved me because I loved their children and was a great baby sitter.  But, for the most part, I lived and ran from constant bullying that destroyed me and most young boys want peer acceptance more than anything.

Later in college, I had to drop a scholarship due to a disability and spent my 20's depressed and oppressed by angry women where I worked as an office clerk in various firms. I returned to college but garnered no friends, no mentorship that guaranteed a job afterwards and graduated just in time for a huge economic slump that left me at the bottom ringers in my field where I still am today.  I also tried to find solace and moralistic, spiritual peers from 20's-40's in ministry and churches only to find myself rejected as a single man, gay, living with family.  I crashed in my jobs, volunteering and church against walls people put up to control the positions they held and who held no interest other than evangelizing me or gaining a convert.   

I am no longer in a such desperate place having come "out" and finding a slew of friends, deeper family relationships and a church with a pastor who finally embraces me faults and all. But I know what it means to be lonely and feeling unknown still hits after so much journeying. The difference for me is I've put the work in myself and I ask for, act on, what I need verses waiting for others to initiate.

People and "positions" are items that are outside of you that you cannot control entirely. To depend on them for your value or worth is to try to control the wind to blow your way by simply wishing it would. No one wants to be around tyrants or walled up people anymore than they do energy draining 24hr desperate people who claim victim-hood every time you speak with them.  You must work on yourself and find value within yourself to overcome.  A series I wrote about called "What's In A Name?" may help you to this end.  Also, be leery of any religion that says you were born worthless and must rely on something outside of you to be seen as "worthy". This is a clever deception to make you dependent on that particular religion for your self worth and when you don't meet the standard, fearing wrath is no way to help you.  Don't submit yourself to tyrants because it will enhance your sense of low self esteem.  Even as a believer in God, I have learned that any religion that is against self worth or only for it by word and not actual theology is a dangerous doctrine to be had.

Last, ask for what you want.  My life was revolutionized when a minister once told me "All men are waiting for their next friend."  So many men stay in waiting for someone else to act, to initiate, to save, or to read their wants and needs as a form of feeling valued.  Ask yourself "How is waiting for someone else to act working for me?"  It won't.  Today people are more disconnected from each other than ever, despite the social media. You can read more about that at Bloomberg News.  There is nothing wrong in gaining more connections and support but realize you must initiate, you must act and let your wants be known.  Doing so from a desperate or tyrannical place isn't the answer but rather act from the joy of knowing that you are worth this kind of support and that you have something to offer the world.

The best way to feel known is to connect to the world by doing what you are gifted at but that gift which excites you.  What you are best at doing isn't necessarily your bliss, or something that you like to do.  For example, I'm great at typing and office skills but I don't necessarily like it or get excited about that.  I get excited working with children, writing, ministry and connecting with others.  It is then that you will not feel like you are Norm walking into a bar. Instead, you will feel like the whole Earth is exclaiming your name.