There are all different types of Important. There is Important like riding in the fancy seats on the Amtrak train while wearing a suit. There is Important like treating yourself to a massage and Keratin treatment because you deserve it, baby. There is Important like you have to run a million errands and pick the kids up from school and have dinner on the table before seven. There is Important like, if I just leave, who will take care of the cat? There is Important like if I stop tweeting, will my Twitter friends miss me? And so on, and so forth.
So how do you know which types of Important you are? How do you know when to call yourself a “big deal,” or sacrifice your focus on one thing for the sake of another thing that matters more? What tools do we use to measure the impact our everyday existence has on the world around us? When should I start making videos addressing my “followers” and work on buttons for them to wear on their backpacks?
I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately. Sure, our moms will collectively say that we’ve been Important since the day we we’re born, that our importance is wrapped up in our mere existence, that we were born to vogue and be beautiful no matter what they say… but I don’t know. I’m having a hard time grasping my own importance in this whole thing. This isn’t about a lack of confidence or self worth, but rather an examination of my own expectations. What do I really think Importance is? And how am I working towards achieving it for myself?
I am envious of many people in the world who I know for a fact are Important. I am going to go out on a limb and say that I am envious of Lena Dunham, because she is younger and more successful than me and I would love to have her career. I know she is Important because I can’t open up a magazine or watch any television without her reminding me that no one has paid her to be 24 (when in fact, they totally have, IRL). I am envious of how hard she worked, that she never had to really worry about student loan payments, that she was born Important and will remain Important at least for the current zeitgeist.
I am envious of writers and editors at publications who get to talk about their bowel movements, bra-sizes, and redecorating plans. Getting paid to just be you makes you seem really Important (hi Kim Kardashian). For me, I still feel like I have to be someone else so I can get a job at an office and no one will know too much about me. I wonder if in order to be the kind of Important we want to be, we have to not care about what other people deem Important. Like when you get a tattoo and someone says, “you’ll have to cover that up during a job interview” and you laugh at him or her. Only the tattoo is your entire life. Should I just put my entire life out there and hope for the best?
Don’t give me a hard time; I know this is a first-world problem. I know I am lucky to be me and should have nothing to complain about, and that being so existential is a luxury. However, that isn’t enough to make the questioning stop. As a matter of fact, the questioning only increases when I start to examine my privilege, my eagerness to try and do and fail and keep going. Gosh girl, you got so many opportunities, why aren’t you someone Important yet?
Momentary relief comes when people are proud of you, when you get something you want, when an Important person asks you out for coffee. It’s a minor rush that makes you feel like something is happening, like you’re getting there. Figuring out where There is is probably how realizing you are Important starts. And then, most likely, it will change. There is a reason Meryl Streep has more than one Oscar, you know.