Value Beyond Numbers

On Tuesday, I went to Aggie Muster because I received a scholarship from the Deep East Texas A&M Club. One table down from me, there was this girl. She was from Pine Tree, a school that my school not only rivals, but constantly tries to quantitatively be better than. She got a $4000 scholarship, quadrupling my measly $1000 one. So I did a mental stack-up: I’m a National Merit Scholar and the valedictorian of my class; all she’s got is drum major of the Pine Tree band, which is pathetic according to my school’s band directors. I was snooty and bitter because I thought I had been slighted, so I made up my mind to prove that I was better than this girl, this girl who had done nothing to me other than submit an application and be selected.

The way I compared myself to that girl is not an isolated incident. I am guilty of these types of judgments on a daily basis, just like I believe many other people are. The human race is a competitive one – survival of the fittest is a culture, a way of life. People will do whatever it takes, not to reach a certain standard, but to beat the guy next to them. Ours is a society based on quantification – we want more money, more cars, more square feet in our house, more Facebook friends, more Instagram likes. I’m guilty of it: I check my viewer stats on this blog on a daily basis. I’m looking to see how many people are reading, how many people are watching me, looking for a number that will somehow bring worth to what I’ve written.

I feel that this is a fundamental problem. The crux of the matter is this: I look to the approval of others, usually represented by a number, to find value in my work and my life. I don’t look at something I’ve written and think “I like that. I think I’ll post it.” I wonder how many people will read it and like it. I don’t post a picture on Instagram because I think it’s a cool picture; I post it because I think people will “double tap”. I’m not satisfied when somebody hands me a thousand dollars because they handed somebody else four times that. I wonder what was wrong with me, why they chose her instead of me. All my numbers seem to be perpetually less than somebody else’s, which translates into a perpetual state of disappointment and a feeling of worthlessness.

These comparisons, this reliance on the quantification of other people’s approval, is my biggest waste of time and drain of happiness and, I believe, is a source of dissatisfaction for many other people as well. I will never be the most popular person on social media. This will never be the most-read blog on the internet. My SAT score will never be perfect. My scholarship application won’t always be ranked highest. But I will not let these facts define my value because my worth is not defined by numbers.

There are two people whose opinions really matter, whose approval I should strive to seek: my God and myself. For a long time, I made people my god. I worked for good standing in the eyes of the world, for the title of “the best”, which by definition means better than everyone else. But I have chosen now to put God in his rightful place. His is the ultimate authority to put a value on my life, and He sees me as His infinitely valuable creation.

I am a person. The girl a table over me at Muster is a person. You are a person. Behind every Instagram picture, every Tweet, every blog, every Facebook account, there is a person, not defined or assigned value by a number, but loved by a Creator. When I fully realized this, I stopped making comparisons. I stopped feeling like crap about myself because my numbers were less than somebody else’s. I stopped judging people and being prideful because my numbers were greater than theirs. Getting out of that mindset is an ongoing struggle, yes, but it is a worthwhile one. Learning to find worth in the love of God is infinitely more rewarding than any value this world and its people can give me.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” – Galatians 1:10

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2 thoughts on “Value Beyond Numbers

  1. Thank you for writing this with such frankness. I too, have definitely been in your shoes (and spend a lot of time there) when it comes to putting all my value in numbers. I did it when applying for college, I do it now that I’m in college, I do it at work, and I do it even when I’m trying to just relax. It’s a daily work to put God at the center of life and let everything else fall to the side, especially for driven people. Your blog post is an encouragement to me, and something I needed to read today; so, thank you.

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