I received a comment on my blog the other day that really impacted me (which I appreciated! ... I always like hearing feedback and being able to engage with different perspectives and thoughts about issues of all kinds- so I encourage comments!!). Anyways, in my last post about the holidays, I mentioned that 'fat talk' seems to be at an all time high. I also mentioned that while at a holiday party recently, someone asked me how much I weigh. While I was a little taken aback at the question and found a way to evade it creatively (I actually don't own a scale), I also (flippantly) wrote that a number is just a number. The comment that got me thinking was made by an anonymous reader, who challenged my statement that a number is just a number.
Here is what the reader had to say, "You say a number is just a number and so therefore, it doesn't mean anything... but you couldn't be more wrong. It's the rational and easy thing to say but numbers are what drive most people, both good and bad. It's pathetic, but the truth is when you have a good day on the scale, you feel like you can conquer anything."
I can't say that there haven't been times when numbers haven't defined me. One example? Grades! My GPA mattered way too much to me. And I sometimes think about how hard I worked and how much pressure I put on myself-- and how little it would have mattered if I had gotten a B, or ten. I don't think one person has asked me what my GPA in grad school was... and that's because it doesn't matter what my grades were... it matters if I am skilled at what I do, if I have knowledge and the ability to apply it practically, if I have a good work ethic, if I am honest, if I have integrity, if I do my best. Those are all qualities that cannot be measured by a number.
In that same vein, how is it that a number- whether on a scale, in a bank account or on a friends list on facebook- can have the power to define my value or give me the ability to be all that I was created to be and do? While I certainly can identify with numbers providing a sense of self-worth, I know that they are ultimately meaningless. The best things in life cannot be confined to or defined by numbers: friendship, love, faith, family... When the temptation sets in for us to believe the lie that the number on the scale (or any other number) is what makes us successful, what makes us good enough, or what makes us attractive- it is helpful and critical to remember that the most important things and experiences can never be defined by numbers.