This story is for a friend who based his worth on the approval he would receive from others...
He finally realized that he was enough.
His job was to hand out stamps of approval. It was a job passed down from generation to generation...each one thinking they'd do it better than it was ever done before.
Every day he'd sit there reviewing applications, sometimes hundreds a day. It didn't matter that The Stamper secretly wished to find another job, this was the job chosen for him. He didn't want to disappoint. So he thought to himself, "I'll show them that I can stamp like no other! They'll have to believe in me because I've done everything they've taught me and then some!
The Stamper was taught to only see black and white. His respected elders said, "Don't bother to look at the applications with color. You can't control them, so they're easier to reject if you don't acknowledge them."
"That's how every Stamper before me did it, so it must be what's best", he thought as he set about his work...but at night he would dream of painting his world with color.
There was one application that consistently was rejected no matter how many times it was submitted. The rejected application had an array of hues...each day it would submit a clever pattern of rich colors mixed with subtle hints of humility and compassion. It thought surely it would be noticed despite The Stamper's inability to appreciate it. Its colors could change and adapt to the other applications in the pile. It was accepting and sympathetic with their lack of color. There were days when the rejected application would wear shades of yellow. The other applications would bask in this warmth, drawing confidence from its sunshine. The Stamper always stamped these applications with approval...and each day the rejected application would think to itself, "The Stamper will eventually approve of me because I gave my colors to make the other applications happy."
The Stamper did notice the rejected application, but knew better than to acknowledge it for it's bold choices and experienced palate.
This went on for years and the rejected application grew weary of giving itself to the black and white applications. Eventually its colors began to run out and it looked torn and tattered. It had to ration its colors. Each day it became a paler version of itself. Then one day the rejected application took what was left of all of its color and mixed it into a vibrant hue...there was just enough for one tiny blob.
The Stamper was late for work...tired, as he, himself had also grown weary after years of approving only the black and white applications. It was that day that he decided to take charge of his work. He searched through the piles of applications, discarding the black and white ones, hoping to find that lovely rejected application. He finally found it, but was saddened to see there was not much left to it. He delicately held the rejected application in his arms and admired what little beauty his colorful soul mate had left. He listened to the rejected application's story, loved it for who it once was, respected its courage, nurtured it, and resolved to restore its beauty.
He no longer wished to see only black and white. That rejected application taught him to see himself for who he was, and that was enough for him. It was then that he resigned from his job but not before placing the final stamp of "Approval" on himself.