Editorial Notebook

You are the most important person there is

Modern society only functions due to the human ability to cooperate and work together as a team. It’s because we can communicate, exchange goods, and specialize that we have reached the luxurious commodities of our daily life. Of course, there are actions that people commit that go against the common good—vandalism, robbery, murder, the list goes on—but overall, our togetherness has overcome.

This togetherness has had the byproduct of pushing a moral code onto society: valuing others over yourself. In small cases, this can consist of sharing food with someone or helping someone out with their schoolwork. In bigger cases — which is what is concerning — this can be acting as someone’s impromptu therapist, giving up a position so someone else can have it, or damaging your own reputation to protect another’s.

Wanting to help someone else is a good characteristic, and should be encouraged by society. Wanting to help others generates friendliness, and creates warm communities. Feeling obliged to help everyone, on the other hand, is a self-destructive characteristic. You should never believe you are lesser than anyone else, or that you are less deserving of respect. In fact, you are the most important person there is. There is no one with your experiences nor your mentality. You should not only know this, but integrate it.

As an example, I used to be very friend-oriented. I would stay up until 3 am talking about drama, even though I would have classes the next morning. These talks would consist about who hates whom, who likes whom, and how I would have to mold myself such that I could get along with who I wanted to get along with. I spent a lot of time in classes thinking about what I would say to my friends the next day. I would shape my opinions in order to be someone who could listen to them and help them. Besides deflating my sense of self, this took a tremendous amount of time out of each week. At some point, it began to severely hurt my grades. It took that level of impact for me to realize that I had to value myself over others. I started to say no to talks. I would say my honest opinions, even if it hurt the person I was talking to. I started to value my thoughts, my time—I started to value myself.

In general, integrating this self-confidence means wanting the best for others, but for yourself, too. It means understanding when someone is too taxing to deal with, and letting that person know you need a break. It means knowing your limits and only acting on what you can get done. It means fighting for those positions you want to obtain or those trips you want to go on. It means voicing your opinion when something you disagree with comes up. It’s important to be humble, of course, but never undermine the intrinsic and unique value you hold. You are the most important person there is.