When I was in elementary school, I was neither athletic nor popular. Consequently, when the time came to choose teams for games at lunchtime or in PE, I was frequently one of the last ones chosen. In that setting, not being chosen didn’t feel very nice.
Sometimes being chosen brings a mixed response. It’s not always welcome or comfortable to be set apart. Unless it’s a completely random selection process, being chosen comes with expectations, which invites the possibility of disappointment: the chosen one might fail to come through. Some enjoy the challenge; others eschew it.
The little boy on the playground was inclined to interpret not being chosen ontologically, to conflate not being selected due to a lack of athletic ability with not being valued or wanted at all.
The adult who feels ambivalent about being chosen – happy to be recognised but afraid of coming up short – experiences a more sophisticated version of the same flawed thinking: that inherent value depends on performance.
It’s easier said than done sometimes, but the sooner one separates those two things, the quicker one can get on with making one’s contribution. Any sustained look at the world makes it clear that we need everyone.
In fact, we expect it.
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