7.8 billion people in the world, and you’re the one reading this. 7.8 billion variables and I’m supposed to address you. What on earth can I say, to someone I’ve never met, someone I shouldn’t know?
Well, .000000000128, I know you better than you think.
I know that there’s something you hate about yourself, probably about your body. I don’t know what, but something’s wrong with it. It’s too short, too tall, too fat, too thin, wrong hair, wrong shape, wrong color, wrong nose, large mouth, small eyes, pimply, freckly…
Or maybe you feel the problem in your soul. You act weak, selfish, greedy, arrogant, or stupid and think you are that thing. It has creeped around and in you and defined you, and you've started to hate your own mind and heart.
I know that you’ll believe me, a stranger, when I say that. If I say you’re ugly, inside and out, just another one in 7.8 billion. Even if you tell yourself that words will never hurt you, they’ll sink down into your soul and join the thousand other comments you can’t get rid of, the ones that come back and hit you again when you’re weak. They always do.
I know you won’t trust me, not really, if I contradict them. If I say you’re perfect. If I say you’re utterly unique and irreplaceable and that someone loves everything about you and that you’ve got so much to give to the world.
But I mean it. You are. You were born to be a hero.
You won’t accept it—because I don’t know you, you’ll say. From any number of miles away, I can tell you your faults, and you’ll believe me. No matter how close I am, you’ll never really accept my compliments. I know that.
But, remember, I do know a lot about you.
I know there’s someone you hate and would never admit you want to forgive. I know that somehow you’re hurting. I know that every once in a while you stop and wonder why you’re so broken. You’ve questioned if a person really likes you or if they think you’re pitiful. You’ve wished you could go back and say sorry. You’ve hoped no one saw that. You’ve questioned whether they’ll ever write you back.
I know that later today, you’ll think about reading this. You’ll think about me, just like I’m thinking about you right now.
On one hand, you might wonder what sort of .000000000128 would write something like this. But you won’t wonder how I knew you, because you know me. You know there’s something I hate about myself. You know I’m broken and hurting too.
You know that you could tell me these things and I’d believe you. You know if you told me I was beautiful and perfect, I wouldn’t.
Yet, I do mean it, and maybe… just maybe… you’d mean it too. Funny how that works.
What else? Well, I know that you can read, because you’re reading this. I know you’re persistent (or maybe just bored), because you’re still reading this, even though there’s no hint of a story in it.
But guess what else I know.
I know that you are the story.
What if we trusted each other? What if you knew, you really knew, that you are good, that you are not defined by what and how you feel? What if you realized that, in a heartbeat, you could leave behind the nastiness that clings to you but that all the good you do lasts until eternity? What if you didn’t feel so broken anymore?
What if that changed your story?
Because someday, you’ll be in a hurry and behind someone taking it really slow. And you’ll open your mouth and meet their eyes… and wonder how they’re hurting and if they feel broken too. So your comment will become a smile. Just maybe, they'll smile back.
And another time, you’ll pass by a woman who looks really lovely. And for once, you’ll actually tell her so and try to convince her that you really mean it so that she’ll really believe it. Maybe she will.
Someone else will compliment you, and for the first time, you’ll believe they meant it because, if you can be sincere, why not the rest of the world? You won’t wait for their message, because you wrote them first, and it’s 2 a.m., and you’ve been talking now for hours. They’ll tell you they love you, and you might just believe you’re loveable. You’ll say, “’til death do us part,” and mean it. And trust them when they say it back.
You’ll run into that person, that one… and wonder what their story looks like and what role you want to play in it. It’ll take everything you’ve got, but you’ll forgive them, for the first time, letting that stone roll away. And you’ll find you’re able to love again.
Maybe you’ll realize that that’s what makes a hero—not superpowers, not getting the girl, not beating up the bad guy worse than he beats up you, but the superhuman ability to remain courageous and joyful in the face of difficulty and to do the right thing even when it’s hard.
Maybe those difficulties will stop stopping you. Maybe you’ll believe in your dreams again, climb a mountain, or take a chance. Maybe you’ll save a life, because you know life is worth living. Maybe that life will be your own.
Or maybe you’ll keep working at that same job, the same one you’ve felt trapped in for years, that no-good, dead-end, how-did-I-come-to-this job. But one day you’ll realize that the hardest thing, the right thing, is to keep being kind in the midst of your own unhappiness. Or maybe you'll keep struggling with the same old thing... and finally admit you need someone's help. Even if that doesn’t change the world yet, it’ll change you, and that’s a start.
Maybe if you realized that how much you’re worth, you’d have the courage to give yourself away. Because saving the world begins with the belief it’s worth the effort and that belief begins with you.
I know, right now, this is just a story. But I wonder…
What would happen to you… and to the other .999999999872… if it started coming true?