• T. Kearny Vertner, III

Why Not Me?

Everybody asks 'why me?'... embrace the power of asking, 'why not me?'

Brick wall displaying the words, Why Not Me?

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.

Anyone who has been to an event with a large number of children and parents has witnessed this exact scenario: all of the parents take the time to enjoy engaging with each other. Surely - with so many other parents there - Somebody has an eye on the kids, yet it always plays out quite the opposite. The parents are having a great time, and the children are practically feral.

How do we combat this all-to-common issue? Believe it or not, the answer is simple and great for your mental health: step up to be Somebody. Of course, there is always the classic obstacle: why me?

In those moments, I challenge you to ask, why not me? Who else can do it? Who else will do it faster? Better? This isn't to say that your time isn't valuable, but there are always moments where we can spare a few seconds to make the world a better place to live and stop assuming that Somebody will do it.

A great way to practice is with trash. Every day we each walk by litter. Maybe it's the candy wrapper in the hallway or the coffee cup in the parking lot. Cleaning it is likely Somebody's responsibility, but maybe it's Nobody. Maybe Everybody is once again assuming that Somebody will pick up that cigarette butt, yet Nobody will. I encourage you to stop waiting for Somebody. When walking by that piece of trash, ask yourself, "why not me?"

Here's the best part: you'll feel great and improve your mental health. Every day I walk from my parking spot to my office, I take a few seconds to pick up whatever piece of little I find. It doesn't add much time to my day, but I always feel like I'm contributing to the health and welfare of everyone around me and accomplishing a simple task well. It's not too far from Admiral (Ret) William McRaven's concept of starting your day by making your bed. Once you have accomplished one task, you can ride that success into the next, and so on. The few seconds you spend picking up trash may end up shaving time off your future tasks, making it a net positive and strengthening your mental health in the process.

Just imagine how much your outlook can improve by such small actions. If you are willing to be Somebody, it will give you more trust in others when you can't. If you can do this within a team, imagine the kind of environment you build. All that said, it's okay for you to say, "no, I don't have time!" This concept does not mean you say "yes" to every task or idea that comes your way; there's a balance.

So that's your challenge. Will you stand up and be Somebody? Will you ask yourself, "Why not me?"