She makes her living on the Internet, but Allison Carter still knows that sometimes true happiness lies in untangling yourself from the World Wide Web! This post first appeared on Allison’s blog.
It is hard out there. No matter how hard you work, how hard you try, or what successes you meet, you will never be the best.
You do know that, right? You do know that there will always somebody “better” than you? You do know the hard life lesson that, no matter how good you feel, someone out there will make you feel like they are doing it better?
A lesson we try to learn when we are kids, a lesson our parents try to gently teach us, but something that never gets easier. We bash our heads against the American promise of rising to the top simply on the back of hard work only to be blindsided by others who are amazing.
We want to be good at something, anything, everything. But regardless of what our personal goals are and how we meet them, someone is going to make us feel like we are standing in dust as they roadrunner by us.
It is hard out there.
It is even harder if you are on the Internet. And we’re all on the Internet.
For, you see, on the Internet, there are people all over the place doing amazing things. They are brave, funny, open, honest, beautiful, and remarkable. Every day on the Internet someone new from some unforeseen place comes out of a Facebook post or a tweet to change things. People change lives every single day, every amazing second on the Internet.
And while we can breathe out that they are amazing, while what they are doing gives us tingles, some part of us also says, “Hey, why not me?! How dare they!? How dare they be so remarkable when I am here, trying so hard to be noticeable?”
We write our brains out, submit to places, post updates, “like” the snot out of things, and Instagram our lives in hues of Mayfair and Hudson and LoFi…we hashtag, comment, and share…we want to be noticed. We want someone to “like” us back. We want to be remarkable. We want to matter.
I find myself going around in circles lately, Internet-driven yet simultaneously Internet-repulsed. I get sucked in, noticing a person who does it “better” than me, wondering why no one has liked my update yet. I look for validation and refresh. I want to matter.
But is that where we matter, on the Internet? The sphere where there will always be something prettier, brighter, better designed, perfectly organized, check-listed, and cooked from scratch – is that where we NEED to matter?
I played competitive softball. I spent hot, sweaty, sultry summer nights in dirt-stained pants, dust caking my nostrils, mosquitoes swarming around bright stadium lights. I stared in to those lights while cicadas sang and I waited for a batter to make contact and crack us all out of laziness in to chaotic, rehearsed, frenzied activity.
I wanted it. I wanted to be the best. I wanted my team to win, I wanted to own every tournament we were in. I wanted my team to be remarkable.
Did we win? Sure. Maybe. Probably.
Do I remember the wins? No. Absolutely not.
And you know this story…
I remember the hours spent on dugout benches making up new cheers. I remember watching Carrie scream a windmill pitch in to a catcher’s mitt and wanting to throw up a little at the idea of standing on the other side of that. I remember my coach walking me back on the field when all I wanted to do was quit. I remember begging God not to let me be “That Teammate” who got the strike out to lose the game. I remember my teammates and I running through 7-Eleven excitedly post-game trying to decide which Slurpees we were going to get. I remember cheering on my teammates no matter what they did, who they were, or what our score was.
On that softball field, I felt remarkable. I felt like I mattered. I was the best damn second-baseman that team had seen and I was needed.
And maybe that is how we really matter.
Maybe we don’t matter in statistics, and RBIs, and scores, and wins, and likes, and posts, and shares, and what badges we have.
Maybe we need less social media and Internet and more time running bases on summer nights.
Maybe we need to remember that our posts are someone else’s “better than.”
Maybe we need to step off the bench and in to the dugout to realize what is true. We need to get in, get dirty, and get so absorbed in the game and our team that we’ve stopped paying attention to wins and scores.
Because we DO matter. We all do.
I don’t care who you are or what your story is: YOU MATTER. You matter to someone. To someone out there, you are the best damn second-baseman on their team.
So yeah, on the Internet someone will always be besting you. On the Internet, you are besting someone else.
So let’s get off the Internet and get some dirt on our cleats with some friends, shall we?