“Somebody raise a silent hand and tell me–” FIVE BILLION HANDS IN THE AIR. Okay, maybe not five billion. But a solid 87% of the little ones at the summer theatre camp I work at will volunteer to answer a question before they even know what the question is. This baffled me when I first started working there, but I think after several weeks, I’ve realized why children are so likely to raise an eager hand for literally anything. They’re desperate to be chosen. No matter the question, no matter the possibility of failure or rejection, they are begging to hear someone say their name. Maybe I’m reading a little too far into this, but I can’t help but feel like situations in my own life lead me back to the idea that from the beginning, all we have ever really wanted is to be chosen.
I’m realizing this in my own life not because I recognize an eagerness or voluntary spirit, but rather because I’m noticing the extent to which I go in order to not be chosen. That’s contradictory, isn’t it? If from the beginning, we were made to desire to be chosen, why would I find myself actively avoiding the call of my name? Because it makes perfect sense to me that over time, my initial childlike desires would be distorted and damaged by this world. It makes sense to me that after bravely raising a hand and being wrong ten thousand times, I might stop raising that hand. It makes sense that after hearing peers talk about plans I’m not invited to, I would eventually just decline even if I was invited, so that I could seem as though I’ve been busy all along. It makes sense that after saying “I pick you, I want you,” and being told “You’re a burden, I don’t want you,” I would stop choosing others and asking them to choose me. And it doesn’t matter how many times I got it right, or how many times I was invited, or how many times I was straight up chosen, because the voice that lives inside your head doesn’t remind you of your victories. It doesn’t tell you that you’re chosen. If you want to remember that, you’ve got to do that all on your own. And I’m assuming that takes time.
It’s as if we think that if we never throw our hat into the ring, the prospect of not being chosen will sting less. If we count ourselves out, no one can not count us. If we reject ourselves, we can’t be rejected. If we punish ourselves, no one else can. But here’s the thing… I still want to be chosen. And I can’t be chosen if I don’t make myself an option. An option that will likely be ignored, unheard, unseen, undervalued, underestimated… Or an option that will be cherished, appreciated, admired, chosen. It’s not about raising a hand and volunteering anymore. It’s not about conforming to the kind of person that is typically chosen. It’s not about desperately trying to be a person’s “someone.” It’s about being open, uniquely yourself, and available to be chosen when someone sees you and thinks, “You. I want you. Specifically. Uniquely. You.” I bet that’s happened for you before. It’s happened for me. I forget about that a lot of the time, but it has happened. I don’t know who didn’t choose you. But I bet someone chose you at least once. Maybe it was a parent or a boy or a casting director or a friend or maybe, if you’d like to believe it, the Creator of the Universe. To forget those times when you’ve been chosen is dishonoring to whomever chose you. So hold onto that when you’re considering counting yourself out.