Don't Resent That No One Cares

It's tempting to be resentful that other people don't value your time the way you do. You complain at every opportunity: "Why, why, why do I get socially rewarded for working on this-and-such random chore that doesn't even help anyone, when obviously my great masterpiece (in progress, in potentia, coming soon) on such-and-this is so much more valuable?!"

But I think it's better not to be resentful and not to complain, mostly because it doesn't work. Other people don't care about your great masterpiece on such-and-this. They really don't. Maybe someone, somewhere will care after it's done, but it's not reasonable to expect anyone's support in advance—or, alternatively and isomorphically, it is reasonable, but given that there's nothing you can do to force people to be reasonable, reasonableness is not the correct criterion to be paying attention to.

You can't help being economically dependent on other people, but it seems like it ought to be possible to lessen your emotional dependence: to treat praise and criticism as evidence about the effectiveness of your actions, but not as a controlling force, not as a verdict. This is likely to be desirable not only because if you have fewer needs, then there are fewer ways in which you can be hurt, but also because it is necessary in order to accomplish anything at all: if you're dependent on other people's approval, how will you ever summon the energy needed to finish the masterpiece that no one (yet) cares about but you?

If it helps—consider that if everyone else already valued everything you value, then your existence would be superfluous. Maybe it would be better to be superfluous, better if the world were already perfect without there being anything left for you to contribute—but there's no profit in considering such a remote counterfactual. Take a deep breath, try not to let the subsequent exhalation sound like a mournful sigh, and get back to work, or whatever it is you do.

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