Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Why Being A Nobody Is A Good Thing

We start our lives believing in a particularly harmful idea: that we are extraordinarily important people. Our parents might cheer and applaud as we sit up straight for a moment or blow our first spit bubble. 

We can summon big people at any time of day just by screeching and crying. And large people whom we’ve never seen before will visit our home and shower us with gifts and affection for seemingly no reason at all.

This affection gets even stranger as we grow a little bit bigger. Wrinkly, white-haired people who aren’t even related to us will stare at us with candy smiles and call us precious. And restaurant staff will offer us sweets and pastries without being asked.

We truly must be remarkable people. Why else would we be treated like royalty?

But then we grow taller still and find out that strangers are no longer that interested in us. Gone are the days when everyone greeted us with big grins and offered us free treats. 

Strangers have become largely indifferent to us.

We typically don’t truly feel our insignificance until we become young adults. Such as when we walk the streets of a foreign city where nobody knows us, or when it’s late at night and we stare up at the starry night sky and sense our smallness in the vastness of the universe.

No one will come to our aid when we burst into tears now. In fact, nobody might even notice.

For many, this is a grim realisation that we quickly shrug off. We don’t like to feel invisible or meaningless in the grand scheme of things. It typically plunges our mood into darkness. 

But knowing we’re of no concern to most people should be a relief. It means we don’t need to worry so much about the opinions of others. 

We don’t need to worry about forgetting someone’s name right after meeting them, having our voice crack during a presentation, or walking out of a movie screening to use the restroom during a quiet moment. Nor should we dwell on something dumb we said during our last work meeting.

No one cares enough to remember.

And we know that’s true because we don’t spend much time replaying memories where strangers made a fool of themselves. The majority of our thinking is spent on ourselves and our loved ones.  

When a stranger on the bus might be worried if we can see their pit stains, we’re lost in thought about what to make for dinner or how to make it through the week without going bananas.

It’s not that we’re mean. It’s just that it takes so much effort to take care of ourselves, that we don’t have the mental bandwidth to register the BO of a passenger on the bus. 

So if we’re going to feel sad about being a meaningless background character, we should also be happy that whatever we do, we’ll generally be left alone. 

This should encourage us to try new things and have a richer life. It’s a blessing that nobody gives a rat’s ass about us. So let’s use our anonymity for good.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach