Being Important

For all that authors are often shy and reclusive people, authoring comes in no small part from a desire to be heard, paid attention to. It’s probably not just an author issue – any activity with the potential to bring fame and fortune carries the attraction of our being important. Being a parent makes you a god in a small person’s life for a while. Status, in all its various forms, is something humans tend to care about. But how much status? How important do we need to be?

At the other end of the scale there’s the issue that if we aren’t important at all, we may be excluded. There will be no room for us at the table. There are a lot of practical reasons to fear this, as well as the social implications of being outside the tribe.

So here I am, with a pile of books I’ve written, and this blog, waving myself about on assorted social media. Much of it comes from a desire to be useful, some of it may have more to do with a desire for importance. This is something I’ve thought about a lot, not least because I’ve noticed that my desire for importance is reducing, not growing, and this I find interesting.

I think the hunger for importance and feelings of insecurity go hand in hand. At the times in my life when I’ve made the most effort to take on roles that would give me a veneer of importance, I was not in a good place. The more insecure I’ve felt, the more deliberately I’ve sought the attention and affirmation of others. It’s not a mad or unreasonable response to try and sure up what feels fragile and unstable. It’s when the books aren’t selling that I watch the blog stats. Some of this is because ‘importance’ has a value. Important Druids are more likely to be offered paying gigs, more likely to sell books. We exist in a culture that values celebrity and equates fame with worth, and therefore to appear important is to have a worth that often brings direct financial benefits. It’s easy to get really caught up in this kind of thing, especially when you’re struggling for money and feel close to the edge of viability.

My life has changed a lot over the last few years. I’m more financially secure now than I have ever previously been. I’m more emotionally secure than I have ever previously been. The core of my life is a stable home and family unit where I feel safe, valued, and mostly on top of things. It matters less that I’m a long way down most other people’s priority lists. It matters less that other people sell more books and get more attention. Being viable, not being hard pressed and anxious, it is easier to think about how I can be of value and not worry about what comes of that. It’s easier to focus on the few people who enjoy what I create rather than get distressed at a lack of worldly success.

This process has made me think somewhat differently about how other people approach opportunities to be important. There’s the desire to lead, guide, give and nurture on one side, but on the other there’s the need to prove something, a hunger that comes from trying to offset a lack. From the outside it can be hard to work out which is which, but it’s worth considering that people who seem most interested in their own importance can have all kinds of things going on that would be perhaps better dealt with through kindness than by taking them down a peg or two and so making the underlying issues that bit worse.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

5 responses to “Being Important

  • nobescare

    excellent piece. falls in line with the “Ode To The Indispensable Man”

    The Indispensable Man
    (by Saxon White Kessinger)

    Sometime when you’re feeling important;
    Sometime when your ego ‘s in bloom;
    Sometime when you take it for granted,
    You’re the best qualified in the room:
    Sometime when you feel that your going,
    Would leave an unfillable hole,
    Just follow these simple instructions,
    And see how they humble your soul.

    Take a bucket and fill it with water,
    Put your hand in it up to the wrist,
    Pull it out and the hole that’s remaining,
    Is a measure of how much you’ll be missed.
    You can splash all you wish when you enter,
    You may stir up the water galore,
    But stop, and you’ll find that in no time,
    It looks quite the same as before.

    The moral of this quaint example,
    Is to do just the best that you can,
    Be proud of yourself but remember,
    There’s no indispensable man.

  • druidcat

    Also an issue of value, perhaps? Not monetary, but to self and the wider community. Are you serving or self-serving…

    I like the Indiana Jones quote, regarding the quest for the Holy Grail. ‘Is it for His [God’s] glory… Or yours?’ 😉 Often think of that when dealing with the ‘Spiritually Superior!’

  • angharadlois

    You’re so right about countering self-importance with kindness. As a wise person once wrote, “there’s only one rule I that know of, babies – god[s] damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”
    I’ve been wondering a lot about kindness recently; about generosity of spirit, the sense that there’s enough kindness in the world to go around, and that we can honour another without dishonouring ourselves. I keep coming across that qualified version of the Wiccan rede, “do no harm but take no shit,” and feeling uncomfortable; it sort of perpetuates this myth that in order to protect ourselves from the “shit” we have to somehow be prepared to do harm. But it is entirely possible to protect oneself without being unkind (thought whether the person giving the “shit” sees it as kindness is another matter!)

    I felt a similar kind of discomfort on reading the headlines yesterday: a lot of them pitching “YOUR rights” against the rights of (suspected, not convicted) “TERRORISTS.” As if human rights were a zero-sum game; there aren’t quite enough to go around, so we’d better make sure we get ours quickly before the terrorists make off with them. All of which is utter nonsense, of course: any attempts to deprive others of their rights inevitably ends with us losing our rights as well, because they are all linked. I think the same goes for kindness. There’s no scarcity; the kinder we all are to one another, the less likely we are to create attention-hungry egotists (which any of us have the potential to be at one time or another).

  • Nimue Brown

    do no harm but take no shit – love it. And very much agree with your other points there.

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