It’s Not About You


When I hear people saying how tired they are, how they’re suffering with a headache or that they’re a week into a bad cold, a part of me thinks, “Seriously? You have no clue. I’d love to feel how you’re feeling right now.”

Spending over four years with a chronic illness means that I’m sick every day. A good day is feeling tired with my body aching. A bad day is being in so much pain I want to throw up, not being able to pull a thought out of my head and feeling like my blood has been replaced with concrete.

Exhaustion is normal. Pain is normal.

It would be easy to have my experience with chronic illness make things all about me – how I feel, how I’m doing, how I’m hurting.

But I don’t have exclusivity on illness, and the part of me that thinks that other people don’t know what they’re talking about and how I’d win the “Who’s most ill?” competition isn’t the part of me that I want calling the shots.

Because that guy’s an asshole.

And because it isn’t about me.

Illness has taught me that.

My experience of life gives context to what I do with it; it doesn’t make me the centre-piece of it.

Consumerism, media and shifts in societal expectations are fueling a sense of entitlement and selfishness that is worrying in the extreme. By fixing themselves as the centerpiece of the world, people are thinking in terms of what the world can give them rather than the impact or legacy they can leave for others.

People are forgetting about the capacity they have to put a dent in the universe.

Right now there will be someone down the street from you who’s having a bad time; someone who’s having a much worse time than you. That’s not your problem and it’s not down to you to fix it. I don’t even think it’s your job to have compassion for everyone who’s having a bad time.

But it is your responsibility to stop thinking that the universe revolves around you.

The universe barely knows you’re there.

It’s not about you. It’s about the difference you make.

That difference could be brightening someone’s day with a smile or raising millions for charity. I don’t think size matters here, nor is there any need to be somber or pious about it. Silliness, ease and wrong turns are encouraged.

I love that this illness is teaching me this stuff, and while I screw it up as much as I get it right I’m working on not letting that selfish, entitled part of me call the shots.

I hope you’re working on the same thing. How’s it going?


  1. Ali Manning says:

    Wise words as always, Steve. I needed this reminder this morning. I’m in the middle of an overwhelming project at work putting on a huge public event for 30k people. Focusing on the difference i can make will help to reduce some of the stress about all the details and help keep the bigger picture in mind.

    • Steve Errey says:

      You keep going for the tricky stuff Ali! I know you’ll do just fine with it and that it’ll go great. Whenever I’m in the middle of a big project with details and deadlines spinning all around, I always have thoughts about how much it sucks and how I want to run away and do something easier. Afterwards though, I always see how much fun it was and how I stepped up. So I guess the trick is look towards that thought rather than the “run away and hide” thought…

  2. Yes. I can so relate to things. I found myself on a downward spiral bitching over my past and current health challenges and letting them rule my life, letting them define me.

    Then writing a blog post one day, I realised it’s not about that. It’s about how I feel. It’s about how you feel. It’s about how we make each other feel. Do we light up the room when we come in, or does it return only after we leave? Life’s too short and precious to spend it wrapped up in complaints and negativity.

    It’s more important to add to the goodness in our communities. To lift ourselves and others up with our words, our thoughts, and our actions. We need to rediscover empathy, acting and listening from a pure place, and just letting out more light instead of darkness.

    Thanks for sharing this, Steve. You confirmed something I’ve been thinking for a while now. 🙂

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