The Courage to Be Anonymous

“Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

Do you ever want to be recognized for something you did? To know that your contribution caused people to take notice, even if just for a moment?

Do you want to be somebody who matters?

In our age of relentless self-promotion, many of us have gotten caught up in feeling like we should be doing big and important things. There’s so much pressure from social media to be perfect—and have documented proof.

It’s amazing how one day you can feel totally content with your life, and the next feel like you’re failing and have nothing to show for your efforts.

A core human need is the desire to be seen and heard. This need is not only valid, but important for our overall health and well-being.

But we’ve confused the need to be seen with the need to be acknowledged on social media by having people respond to our content or buy what we’re selling.

We live in a world where people are the product and self-branding is the norm. When no one is buying, you can start to feel like you have no worth.

True self-worth

What if the greatest sense of self-worth comes from the willingness to be anonymous?

What if you could do something that would change millions of lives for the better but never be recognized for it? Would you still do it?

St. Teresa of Calcutta once wrote:

“Each one of us is merely a small instrument. When you look at the inner workings of electrical things, often you see small and big wires, new and old, cheap and expensive lined up. Until the current passes through them there will be no light. That wire is you and me. The current is God.

We have the power to let the current pass through us, use us, produce the light of the world. Or we can refuse to be used and allow darkness to spread.”

It would seem to me that St. Teresa’s words take us straight to the heart of the matter at hand. The real question we should be asking ourselves isn’t “How can I be seen?” but “Am I willing to be used?”

Are you?

Even if you’re one of the small, hidden, anonymous wires in the electrical system? If you are, then you understand that your worth is intrinsic. It matters little whether you’re seen or not seen. What matters infinitely more is whether or not you choose to be used.

So choose wisely.

  • Zarayna Pradyer

    Good reminder, Cylon. Thank you.
    I recall hearing about a stone mason working on Lincoln Cathedral which was built over many years, many centuries ago. He was asked by his colleagues why he was taking so much trouble doing his most skilled work on a piece of stone right up in the roof of the cathedral which could not be seen from below. ‘No one can see it,’ they said. ‘God can,’ was his reply.
    So, both his work and his philosophy come down the centuries for us to ponder. Good that, isn’t it?
    Kindest,

    • Hi Zara, a powerful example of the point I was trying to make! Thank you 🙂

  • What a beautiful contemplation you have written here, Cylon.

    “We live in a world where people are the product and self-branding is the norm. When no one is buying, you can start to feel like you have no worth.”

    Thank you for the reminder that what gives our lives meaning and value has nothing to do with self branding or being a ‘product’.

    Well said.

  • Martina Theuns

    Dear Cylon, thanks again for your sweet wise words.

  • Karen Lawrence

    Thanks Cylon this post has helped me write my gratitude journal this evening following an emotional week.
    Thanks too to Zarayna Pradyer for reminding me that I have the privilege of living in the city of Lincoln.
    Also that I hope to light a candle in our wonderful cathedral this weekend to remember all those precious people no longer in our lives.

    • Karen, so glad to hear this post inspired you to write! I checked out the cathedral’s website…it’s so beautiful! What a beautiful city as well! My wife and I just put it on our bucket list!

  • Isabella Nelson-Lovell

    Very insightful! Gonna employ this philosophy in my life moving forward. It will help with my peace of mind also. Thanks!

  • Eva Fitzgerald

    Funny… in theory, I am quite content sitting back and letting my “contributions” go unknown. It’s often just as satisfying and generally much more comfortable not being in the limelight. BUT, let someone else try to take credit for what I have done or initiated, and WATCH OUT!! Then, my desire to be recognized flairs up! It seems I am quite content when only God and I know a glimmer of good that I have done, but I am too prideful to keep my mouth shut (or at least my dander down) when someone else claims credit. Not sure what that says about me, but it’s embarrassing to recognize and admit, so it can’t be good! (smile)

    • It says you’re human 🙂 It’s hard for me to admit too but I totally identify with your feeling. On top of that, we know this is a real problem in the world…where those in positions of power and prestige can easily take all the credit for the hard work of others. I would say that in a position like this, it’s only right to advocate for yourself…but I wouldn’t let the possibility of having the credit stolen from me stop me from contributing my gifts.