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The Feeling of Insignificance

Why We Can Feel Insignificant

There is something inside of us; part of our soul; part of our being that needs to know "where do I fit into this thing called the universe?"

And if you're like me, you will have had or are having right now one of those troubling moments. Right there in the midst of your day-to-day routine; right when you're sipping that first coffee in the morning, everything stops and your mind goes to, "what is my place and where do I fit in this thing we call the world?" 

Because we can struggle at finding the answer, we're left with, "why do I feel so insignificant?"

We end up somewhere having a quasi-existential crisis, which once again causes us to grind to a halt, crawl up on the couch and pull a blanket up to our ears and start to question if our presence on Earth really matters in the big scheme of things.


Why do we feel or certainly at times have those feelings of insignificance? The opposite side of the coin might be, "what would it feel like to live life with a deep sense of meaning and purpose?"

Many of us experience the first, but secretly long for the second. How many of us have ever actually sat down to think about or consider the question?

But, maybe the purpose of today is just to get you; get me thinking and pondering, "why don't I feel significant; where do I fit in and what is my role?"

How many of us ever achieve or even know "what a deep sense of meaning and purpose" really is?"  We might all long for this, but sadly few of us achieve it. Some of us never even consider the bloody question!

I read somewhere that most people "are diminished due to feeling insignificant." Who wouldn't be depressed after reading that?

Many of us get lulled into a sense that all there is in life, is the day-to-day role we play out. We're scripting out some stage play as we go along. Not knowing what the ending to the play is or worse what the ending could look like.

We act out a part that may not be the role we should have auditioned for. We end up becoming akin to "stage robots." Blindly scurrying about like squirrels and chipmunks hiding nuts away for the long winter season ahead.

The irony of the whole thing is, we're the ones writing the script.

We get married, yes to our spouses, but also to our responsibilities; our routines and often the sad acknowledgement that the predictability of life as we have come to believe it, can only be this way.

Because we see few, if any alternatives, we kind of surrender to not pursuing and living the life we hoped for.

All of this at some point leads down the road of "why don't I feel significant; where do I fit in and what is my role?"

Although there can be a host of reasons why we get the feeling of insignificance and honestly those reasons might be best looked at another post or three.

But, here are I think a few reasons(of many), why we carry "insignificance" around with us.

Insignificance —Why?


We never learn how to overcome fear. What we did learn were skills and techniques that helped us to avoid making mistakes.

The skill or technique we learned was never taking any risks or step out and try something due to the risk of failure.

We learned young to fear failure. Because we fear failure; we also learned the fear to try. That circle of "fear to try and fear of failure" corrals us into a never-ending cycle of mind-numbing conformity and living life on a treadmill.

While others grew around us, we didn't. We simply watched the world and meaning pass us by.

Years of this existence; years of not trying and years of fearing failure, opened the gates to the pathway of feeling insignificant.

We Never Asked the Question

At any point in your life, did anyone ever say, help or suggest to consider the question of "what kind of a life you'd like to live?”

Maybe someone did at some point, but as we move along through life, we get focused on grades in school; picking the right university or college; getting a good job; marriage and family. We would all agree(I think), that these are all very important and should be taken seriously. But, we forget one thing.

In conjunction with the above, the question that needs to get asked is, "how would I like to experience my life?"

If we don't consider "how would I like to experience my life," then simply living life takes over and keeps moving us along. As mentioned above, we get lulled into a sense of all there is in life, is the day-to-day mundane role we play out.

We end up scripting out a stage play, not knowing where we want to go. Simply flying by the seat of our pants.

If we can honestly ask and then answer the question of "how would I like to experience my life" early enough, that allows us or certainly becomes the fertile soil for us to be the sole author of our life script and not just some "stage robot."

But, if we don't answer that question, we act out a role we weren't meant for, in a play we don't want to be in.

Not knowing the life we want starts us down the road and into the theatre of feeling insignificant. All the while, we try to answer the question, "what is my role? Where do I fit in?”


Ever tried to measure up? Ever felt like you don't measure up?

A better question might be, "measure up to what?"

The feeling of insignificance can arise when we try to live up to the expectations of others. We live our life based on what others think to be the best course for us to be on.

In essence, we let others write the script for our lives. Parents, teachers, friends and yes, the ever-present media, send us pages that get added to "the script to the play we don't want a part in."

We, read, re-read and memorize the dialogue and off we go. Dulled into a mind-numbing; day-to-day existence. We strive, but yet continually fall short of some arbitrary measurement of beauty, masculinity, power, wealth, status and so on.

This isn't the play we always dreamed of being in. A play of our lives showing “significance," but instead we act in a theatre of feeling insignificant.

The measuring stick of others expectations of who we need to be or what we have to measure up to is fleeting and a fantasy at best. Is the stick placed so high that the expectations of us are quite simply unreachable and unattainable? Or, is it set so low that no one feels we'll be able to attain or be anything of significance during our lifetime?

Living up to the expectations of others is a bumpy and pothole-filled road that never ends. We'll never get there.

Trying to live up to the unrealistic expectations of others, media, the world around us, allows others to write the script of our life.



We Never Ask The Question


Three of the many elements that can lead us to feel insignificant in the world and asking the question, "why don't I feel significant; where do I fit in and what is my role?"

Other underlying components leading us to feel insignificant could be:

  1. mental health concerns such as depression
  2. a spiritual longing or need
  3. love, nurturing and upbringing in our formative years
  4. a distorted negative sense of self

Are there times in your life you feel insignificant and wonder "where do I fit in and what's my purpose?

Is the search for significance in our lives important?

If so, what things can we do to feel there are some meaning and significance in our lives?

Read next: C.S.A.S.
Glen McKenzie
Glen McKenzie

"Thoughts From The Wilderness" examines how nature and the outdoors intersect with our daily struggles and presents ways we can move forward and triumph over tough issues hindering us from leading the lives we were meant to lead.

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The Feeling of Insignificance
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