Suzanne Manser, PhD

Licensed Psychologist

You Are Needed

Here’s the way I see it: Everyone in the world is standing in front of a huge wall. We’re all painting a mural, collectively, on this wall. And each one of us is painting with our own unique color.

Your specific, unique color is needed here. If we all had the same color, our mural wouldn’t be very interesting. It would just be one big boring block of some color that we’re all kind of sick of. If we were all the same, life wouldn’t be very interesting. There would be nothing special about anyone.

You may not see how you’re special. You may think your color is boring, but that’s because you’re used to it. No one else is just like you, and that alone makes you interesting. Your color brings a dimension to our mural that is needed. It elevates the collective work of art.

If your color was absent, the mural would be lacking. It would be less than it could be. There would be less to be inspired by.

Your specific color makes a difference. Someone will see it and be drawn to it. Someone will see it and be curious about it. Someone will see it and feel seen because it is so similar to their color. Someone will see it and learn from it. Your color is meaningful to the world.

I see this so clearly, all of us with our paintbrushes or spray cans, working on this amazing, complex, colorful mural. Lots of people find it hard to value their contribution to the mural. They find it hard to believe that their color does make a difference and is meaningful. They believe their color is not worth as much as other colors.

Simply put, they are wrong. Some colors are flashier or brighter than others, but they all have the same worth. Just like people. Because we are alive, we are all worthy of respect, acceptance, and love. We are all meaningful. We all contribute to the overall collective. We are all needed here. That’s just how it works.

If you ask 20 people what their favorite color is, very few of them – potentially none – will say “brown” because brown is not flashy. But can you imagine our world without brown?? Brown holds our world together! Brown may not be flashy, but it is needed.

Some people will vibe with your color, and some may not. That has to do with chemistry and psychodynamics and has nothing to do with your worth. Your color is as valuable as the person’s sitting across from you, regardless of how that person feels about it.

Now that we’re all clear on that, what does your specific color look like? Once you know what it looks like, you can intentionally paint with it. Your color is your you-ness, all the stuff that makes you you. For me, my color has to do with my love for Cherry Pepsi, my attachment to pelicans, my anxiety about things going horribly wrong and, relatedly, my need to be in control, and my dry sense of humor. Those are some of the things that make me me.

Take a few minutes to consider your color. What makes you you? It doesn’t have to be just the “good” stuff. It’s the real stuff. That’s what’s meaningful. That’s what people will connect with and be impacted by. That’s what is needed in the world – your real you-ness.

Now, here comes the hard part: Stop judging your color. Stop comparing it to other colors. Just paint with it – that’s what it’s there for, and our mural needs it.

You are needed.

Here’s an exercise to try:

The next time you’re in a room with other people, notice what colors they are painting with. Don’t judge the colors as “good” or “bad,” just notice them. Notice your reaction to them. You’ll have bigger reactions or responses to some colors than others, back to chemistry and psychodynamics. That doesn’t mean any colors are “good” or “bad.” Remember, they all have the same worth. They are all needed, too.

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