Prison of Self-Importance

Michelle Ellis
5 min readMar 14, 2019
Photo Credit: Michelle Ellis

I did it, guys. I busted out of the prison of my own self-importance.

Currently, I’m in the woods and I can still see the flashlights.

It’s looking for me, my self-importance. It knows I’m gone and I can see it over there, but there’s no turning back now. This freedom is too sweet.

Let me tell you about some of the misery I was forced to put up with in that place:

There were a few instances in the early days where I had attempted to go to the gym, and my husband was all “well, what if the baby wakes up?”

What if? He was right, I was the only one capable of extracting the 15-month-old from her crib at 5:20am. I was the only one.

Nonetheless, I crossed my fingers that she wouldn’t wake and dared to try it.

She woke up, y’all.

She woke up and there it was: all the guilt left mercilessly at my feet by my own self-importance. I promptly gave up on the gym and headed back to my cell. I remember mumbling something like “it must be nice to be able to go golfing all day and I can’t even get an hour for this.” So passive aggressive my self-importance encouraged me to be.

I skipped meals and ate table scraps on so many days, my self-importance convincing me I was too “needed” to slow down. Of course I felt gross subsisting in Cheetos, but such is the life, you know?

Man was I important in there, so busy.

Later, I audaciously thought I’d try to say something more meaningful on the internet. These paragraphs I would write, maybe if I put them on Facebook my words could encourage other people? So I did it, and a lot of people liked it, but my self-importance instantly pointed to all the ones who didn’t.

It was like, “look over there, that person didn’t ‘like’ it and neither did that one. They must have hated it. I bet they’re thinking right now about how weird your long Facebook statuses are.”

It was hard being this important.

One day, as I was getting to the end of my rope with frustration inside this prison, I ran across a couple people who offered eye-opening facts about opinions. They delivered insightful concepts about being your own person and started to wake me up to this horrible friend I was being followed around by: my own self-importance.

I decided to look for more people who could tamp down the negativity of my self-importance. Ones who were saying how much the world deserved my gifts. I liked these people and I wanted more of them.

Then I tried the writing thing again, for real this time. I made a website and put a blog post on the internet for all to read and I was so anxious. I shared it on Facebook with one of those panic-face emojis to let people know this wasn’t my lane and I was aware of my swerving.

You know how many people cared? Like, six.

Six people paid attention to this according to Facebook, and even though about three told me they loved it, I wondered: Is it possible I’m not as important as I think I am?

My self-importance tried to tell me rude things about this statistic: “Six hundred ‘friends’ and only six likes and three comments?” it taunted. You see, my self-importance had the gall to think all six hundred of my connections were looking directly at me all of the time. Thinking about me, talking about me, reacting to me. I was the center of this asshole’s universe and it was exhausting.

I allowed myself to be intrigued despite the assumptions of my self-importance though, because I could see in my web analytics that thirty people read the whole thing. Thirty folks stayed with me all the way to the end of my words, and they gave me enough gas to go again, even though I had no idea who they were.

The next time I tried something crazy like this I wrote something really raw and honest. Oh my God and when I did that, like, sixteen actually responded. Then, like, four came to me in private and told me they loved it. Family members told me they were sharing my stuff with other people. My self-importance had told nothing of the ones paying attention in silence. Why was I listening to that liar?

This was blowing my mind.

So I kept doing it, however scared. Each time, I paid less attention to how many “likes” I was getting and more to the way this activity was making me feel. I was loving it. I was slowly but surely escaping the prison of my own self-importance, creating space for myself to think through things I actually wanted to be doing.

Yesterday, I created a giveaway on my Facebook and Instagram pages and exactly no people entered to win it. In the 24 hours that have followed, I’ve wondered if I asked too many questions? If the structure of my contest was too complex, if my video with my kids was too distracting. How I could tweak it to be more successful next time?

As I have looked around for answers, I’ve noticed one huge amazing detail missing from the whole thing: my self-importance is nowhere to be found.

My old friend isn’t right here next to me anymore, looking for all the reasons I am “less” because of the number of people who did or didn’t want what I was giving. I have escaped her. I have found myself in these woods evading the flashlight and it just dawned on me that I am out. I am free of my self-importance.

You want to know how I know I will be successful at this one day? Because look how far I’ve come. It has taken me seven months to become this unimportant in my own mind and I couldn’t be more proud of myself.

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Michelle Ellis

Mom of two. Graphic Artist and Website Designer. Social media for the labor movement. Writes for fun...and for sanity. michellemariellis.com