Being noticed vs being known
My friends get to do a lot of things that I want to do. Things I hardly ever get invited to do. It’s annoying. I love my friends, but they seem to be given all the opportunities that I want to be given. I often feel like no one notices me. Like no one sees the gifts or the unique wisdom that I have. Or even the years of training that I’ve received that would make me so good at the things I don’t get asked to do, but I want to do!
A few weeks ago I was taking the bus home, and I was angry with God. I complained about how I’m not noticed, how I feel like my time will never come, how I feel passed over again and again. Anyone out there know what I’m talking about? When will it be our turn?
After a few minutes of whining, I felt a little whisper inside my heart. It was like a flow of thoughts that were more peaceful than my own thoughts, and went something like, “Do you really want to trade all the wonderful relationships that you have, for 5 minutes of fame?”
Umm… maybe? Maybe just a little? Sometimes?
God reminded me that while I'm not as noticed as I would like to be, I am incredibly known. People like me. People deeply trust me. People confide in me, and people turn to me for advice. People feel like I am a good listener. People feel that I understand them, and usually I do. God helped me see that this is a remarkable gift to my friends and family. I may be frustrated by not being noticed, but I am deeply known by many people. And that’s special.
I’ve realized that being known is far more valuable than being noticed. Being noticed lasts for a minute, but being known can last a lifetime.
Ready for a science lesson? It won’t be boring, I promise. There are 2 chemicals in our brains that are triggered when we’re noticed or known. Dopamine is the name of the chemical that makes us want rewards, and helps us do whatever it takes to get them. It’s why it feels so awesome to beat a videogame boss, or complete a checklist. It’s what drives you to check your notifications on Instagram and why it feels so good to get so many likes. It’s also why you can’t stop playing Candy Crush, and it can be part of the reason you turn to that addiction that you hate doing, but keep doing. Dopamine is useful and feels awesome… but it doesn’t last very long.
The other chemical is called Oxytocin, and it’s partly responsible for the feelings of love, trust and safety that we feel towards people. When you give money away, or when someone gives you a hug, shares a kind word, or helps you out with something (teamwork), then oxytocin flows through your brain. It reinforces the safety of your relationships, and it actually reduces anxiety and keeps your immune system strong. Long-term exposure to oxytocin generally makes you healthier, while long-term exposure to high levels of dopamine can make you depressed and sick.
It’s totally fine to be noticed by people, but it’s just not enough. You were designed to be known by people, not just noticed.
This week I dare you to turn off the notifications on your phone, and practice getting to know people in real life, and letting them get to know you back. It might not feel like the rush you get from hitting 50 likes, but in time it will be so much more meaningful and will add long-lasting value to your whole life.
How hard was it to turn off your phone? What impact has that one small action helped you? How do you feel? Share with us your journey and #jointheconversation
We see you, we hear you and we value you. Your presence is enough.
Grace and peace, JP