I met a woman recently who knows a lot of famous and well-connected people. How do I know this? She told me – approximately every 30 seconds during the conversation. With what seemed like precision timing, she would insert the name of someone rich, famous and/or powerful – and then speak of the time spent with them – at luxurious and/or prestigious locations of course.

If she would have paused for a breath I might have countered with simpler stories of my husband and children with a few prominent rabbis thrown in for good measure, but I was never given the chance!

And speaking of pausing for breath, another situation comes to mind. I met a friend for lunch and to catch up on our busy lives. It had been a while and there was a lot to say. At least on her side. It’s possible there was a lot to say on my side as well but I was never given the chance. She spoke non-stop and while I now know her views on all things political, the ins and outs or her daughter’s college experience and her frustrations with her son’s latest girlfriend, it wasn’t what I would call a mutually pleasurable experience. I think she left happy but I left a little…unsatisfied to say the least.

And the hits just keep on coming. I had a social/business event to attend recently. It was cocktail party style (my least favorite venue with everyone always looking over my head to see who the next more ideal person to speak to is) and I was button-holed by a former acquaintance. I was then treated to a long monologue detailing his accomplishments and those of his children – business deals closed, trophies won, prominent college acceptances achieved. I smiled politely throughout (no other response was required or expected) and went to pour myself a stiff drink when he was finished!

Having had these three experiences within close proximity to each other, I was left wondering: is the world being taken over by narcissists? Is everyone too self-centered to notice that other people exist? Was it always like this? Should I move to a deserted island somewhere?

I think the truth may be slightly different – and more painful. I believe that each of the above speakers, in his or her own way, was making a request from me: Tell me I matter. Maybe it’s who I know. Maybe it’s what I know. Maybe it’s what I’ve accomplished. But tell me I matter.

And that’s what’s sad. So many of us are walking around lost, with a very fragile sense of self, waiting for the world to affirm our existence, to say that who we are and what we do counts. And yet the Almighty has already done that. Not only has He created us in His image but every time He counts the Jewish people, he is saying “you matter to Me”. You are not just part of the collective (which is important too) – but you are an individual and your individual Jewish life matters also.

When God told Abraham that his descendants would be like the stars in the heavens, He wasn’t just referring to quantity. Just as each star is unique, so too would each Jewish child be. Each of us matters. Each of us has something special to bring to this world, something that only I can contribute.

Without a connection to God, this idea has been lost. Without a connection to community this idea has been lost. And without a connection to our inner Divine essence, to our souls, this idea has been lost. And so people are wondering around name-dropping, pontificating, bragging all in the vain effort to get someone outside them to tell them they matter.

When it was really there all along, inside, wrapped in the Almighty’s love. You matter. I matter. And the Almighty loves each of us individually.

I’m looking forward to more stimulating and less one-sided conversations in the future!