The Significance of Insignificance | Teen Ink

The Significance of Insignificance

February 7, 2017
By C.E.Roth BRONZE, Waxhaw, North Carolina
C.E.Roth BRONZE, Waxhaw, North Carolina
3 articles 0 photos 15 comments

Favorite Quote:
To love another person is to see the face of God." -Victor Hugo

There is an instinctual drive in Americans to be significant. That drive is stronger than the drive to eat, have sex, or even breathe. In fact, insecurity over one’s insignificance can lead to eating problems, harmful relationships, or losing the will to breathe oxygen.

The craving to be known is one of the strongest feelings. When interviewing teens, one of the top fears mentioned is the fear of not making a difference. The interesting thing, is that everyone’s version of “making a difference” is, well, different. However, for most people, it involves reaching a wide number of people almost instantly.

The root of this desire is complicated, but probably has it’s foundations in America’s focus on instant gratification. In America people worry about the areas they are not strong in, rather than focusing on strengthening the areas they can change. Pop culture equates fame with significance, and if one views significance as the number of people reached, then pop culture is right. Not only that, pop culture is saying that influence is more important than action.

But what if people focused on action rather than influence? When a parent tells a child not to curse, but then shouts obscenities in their presence, it should not surprise them when they get a phone call home from school about their child’s potty mouth. It is easy to tell others to change how they live, but hard to emulate the change expected. That is what makes one’s actions so significant; words are rendered obsolete in the face of hypocrisy, but a memory of a truly honorable deed holds more power than a million speeches.

Now, if this article gains influence, then the whole theme of it seems hypocritical. Where is the action in the article? The action lies with the reader. No matter how many people read this article, it is useless and completely uninfluential if no one acts on it’s grounds.

It will lie in the infinite number of articles on the internet, with no one but the author knowing about it’s existence, until the web become outdated and it is lost. But, if it causes one person to decide to make a difference in their life, than it was an article worth writing.

That is the significance of insignificance.

The author's comments:

This article is something that I struggle with, even as I write it. I long to be known, to become famous, even if it turns me into something I'm not. I write this article to promote action in the community and prevent the growing belief that fame is synonymous to importance. This is an important lesson for everyone to learn, including me. 

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