We were in Pittsburgh to watch the Penguins play. As you can imagine it was freezing outside, and windy. Nonetheless, in the face of the less than desirable walking conditions we were determined to find the right spot for our nightcap.

Four of us lost in laughter literally got lost. Before we knew it we were standing on some railroad tracks in the middle of nowhere.

Out of thin air a woman appeared and started to walk towards us.

I walked to meet her.

It didn’t take long to see that she was homeless — completely lucid and utterly distraught.

She began sharing how nasty she’d been treated that day. Telling me that even a woman in her shoes didn’t deserve to take hit after hit after hit. It broke my heart to hear how her dignity had taken a bashing. But in the midst of hearing her words, I knew that all she needed from me in that moment was to listen.

If you’re thinking this lady was one hell of a panhandler — she never asked me for money; instead she hugged me as we went our separate ways.

After the encounter I understood.

It doesn’t matter who you are or what shoes you are standing in at the moment –

Our deepest need is to be seen.

We observe this need day after day and in an endless display of ways.

Take our society’s fascination with fame, for example. Through my work, I’ve found that contrary to what we may think, it’s not all about the outward success. It is very much about receiving acknowledgement, confirmation and celebration in a grand way.

The thing is: we all share this need (introverts included).

We all want to be acknowledged, confirmed and celebrated.

While we are blindly led to believe that the need to be seen grows from the need to stroke our own ego, it really doesn’t. Yes, our ego is a force of its own, but the need to be seen simply stems from our innate human need to contribute. To help. To bring something to the table. Something that only we can bring to the table.

Sadly, we are also led to think that in order to be seen there needs to be a whole lot of fanfare. So, we begin the chase for acclamation. And along the way we slowly lose intention and forget our worthiness (that’s always there).

In time, the growing pursuit turns into an inner longing. Because underneath all of the outside noise…

We instinctively know, that until we step into and live our truth, we aren’t really being seen — no matter how much the outside world showers us with attention, money, you name it.

Then, it’s just a matter of time before we realize that…

Somewhere on the quest to being seen, we stopped being.

We realize this need to be seen…

It’s not about being seen in the biggest possible way.

It’s simply being seen in every way, every day.

In the truest possible way.

We realize the inner longing is nothing more than to create and live with authenticity in the age of inauthenticity.

Originally published at medium.com