There are some people who fancy themselves to be pretty big fish. They think they are powerful and that everyone else around them should see them as important. They want to dictate what others do. They treat others poorly to make themselves feel better. Think of it like that group of mean girls you knew in high school. Those girls thought they were big and bad and that everyone else was just not as important as they were. You know who I am talking about. Some people never grow out of that kind of thinking. Just look at some of those who seem to be part of the “in crowd” in your small town, church, workplace, or other organization.
The problem is that those who think they are big fish usually live in a really small pond of some sort. It is easy to seem like a big fish in a small pond. It is easy to dominate others or have others worship the ground you walk on when it is all you have known and sometimes all they have known. When we live in a little bubble, a small pond, we put way too much stock in our own importance. I think this is why we have so many problems with self-absorption these days. Just watch the phenomenon that is call Big Brother. When you cannot or do not leave your small place or social circle for even a short period of time, you become obsessed with yourself and participate in a lot of drama. It’s disgusting to watch.
You are not as important as you think you are. You do not matter as much as you think you do. So stop treating others like they don’t matter, because you really don’t matter all that much! Go live somewhere else and see how very little you really matter in the grand scheme of things. This issue has an official name, you know. It is called Big Fish-Small Pond Syndrome. It is basically when people get too big for their britches as my grandma used to say. It’s a problem because it causes people to become excessively proud and self-absorbed.
I know it sounds harsh, but it’s the reality. When I went off to college, I learned this lesson well. When you go from being one of 60 students to one of about 20,000 students, you realize just what a small fish you really are. You find that no one else is really thinking that much about you, and in reality, you are not really thinking that much about them. You are on a level playing field. Self-importance wanes away. It is very humbling!
After college, I transitioned back home into a position where I again became what others obviously thought was a big fish. This time, it really didn’t matter all that much to me though. I saw it as an opportunity to observe behavior. You see, when people thought I was a big fish, they all of a sudden wanted to be my friend even though they never showed any interesting in me before. Interesting. No wonder people who fancy themselves to be big fish feel so validated. The truth was that I really wasn’t as important as they thought I was. The importance that was being placed upon me was in their minds only. It was not grounded in reality. I was easy to replace. You may be a big fish in a small pond right now, but things can easily change. Another bigger fish can come along and replace you easily.
I think it’s high time we develop a right view of ourselves. “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (Romans 12:3 ESV). In God’s pond we are all small fish, and that’s the way it should be.