Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What Am I Worth in Today’s Market?

“Sometimes, I feel discriminated against,
but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me.
How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company?
It’s beyond me.”
~Zora Neale Hurston

 It’s funny how society (as a whole) likes to assess our worth in all different aspects of life, programming us to always feel the need to be “at our best.” In the workplace, your pay rate - unlike your position - determines your worth. In friendships, we assess each other constantly to determine the level of trust we should give. In romantic/intimate relationships, we are always being judged and evaluated/monitored to see if ultimately we (ladies) deserve that ring on our left hand, or if we (men) deserve her hand in marriage. From the onset of the relationship, we begin to ask the questions, “Is he a good kisser? I wonder if she’s good in bed? Will his mother like me? Is she still in contact with her exes? Is he really the one? Is she good with money? Is he from a good family? Does she have solid goals for the future? What does he believe in? Is she the one I ask to be my wife? Will he be good as the father of my child(ren)? Can I build my future with her? Would he be a good leader for my family? Will she/he be faithful?”

Speaking of said (perceived) worth -16 years ago, my dowry included a couple goats, some money and a few odd requests (mostly for the sake of acknowledging the tradition)…For those of you who have only experienced American/Western culture, “dowries” are the old school way of showing a family that you were really serious about their beloved daughter. If you wanted someone’s hand in marriage, you’d better be prepared to give the father/family whatever items/price they found acceptable for the interaction. Spend a few moments on Google and you’ll find some outrageous things given to families in a dowry. Funny enough, now that I come to think of it, I wonder if the hubby feels like he made a good investmentJ… I think he got off easy! Some might feel like the dowry given for their hand in marriage is their worth. Some others might feel like the amount of people who think they’re attractive, is their worth. Some might feel (although most times, not true) that the applause they get after a speech/performance is their worth. And I guess for some, our ultimate value is calculated by the net sum our organs can fetch on the black market; which I think (for me) must be a pretty penny as I’m not a smoker and only a light drinker…
The common thread in all the examples I listed above is that your value, your worth, is determined by someone else. As I said before, we are judged at all times and everywhere around us.

BUT how do I value myself? What do I feel I’m worth?

I would be lying if I said, “I don’t care what others think about me.” People’s approval has always been somewhat important for me because it helps me gage my behaviour and actions, and also gives me a standard to uphold. I’m pretty good about placing less importance on the approval of strangers, but the approval of my family and loved ones is quite significant. Whatever the case may be, your own self-worth is what matters in the end. It will be determined by your own awareness and confidence, as how you see yourself and how others view you can vary to extreme degrees. While most will say that appearances shouldn’t hold any substance in assessing your own worth, I know I can’t attest to that… We all know that the fashion, cosmetic, movie, and almost every other industry employs the age old philosophy of “You’ll be accepted if you look like this” to sell their products and ideas.  

There are a lot of things that come into play when assessing my own sense of self-worth. If I had to base it upon academic abilities, I would have the lowest self-esteem imaginable, as I didn’t like school very much. I endured every single year like a good soldier but I had no choice, I had to have an education. I essentially base my view of myself on my own innate intelligence, on my definition of virtue, goodness as a person (which stems from my religion), of character, and everything that implies loyalty, generosity, and endurance...

The way society will see you (and value you) is by what you show them of yourself.
These past few weeks, I’ve been the shoulder to cry on for a young lady who is just going through heartbreak. The young man decided to part ways after a year and a half, for no other reason than he wants to enjoy what’s out there (that is my personal conclusion from the given facts). Now, the young girl - although fully aware she has been treated very wrong in the past and even now in this particular situation - is finding all sorts of excuses (and reasons) to forgive and forget the behaviour… I mean, seriously? Writing this reminds me of the Chris Brown and Rihanna story; although the situation I’m privy to is in no shape or form abusive (physically), the bottom line is the willingness to compromise your own standards and your own self-worth to salvage, maintain or keep what you know is not best for you. We should value ourselves more than that, no matter who else can’t.

People treat you the way you allow them to treat you, so let them know how you want to be treated. And turn around and treat people the way you would like to be treated.
Once you’ve accepted behaviors that are not in line with your values it becomes a habit for those you let get away with such transgressions. It is harder to break that habit, and it becomes acceptable by default. You have to train people to treat you the way you want to be treated. This can be done by putting your foot down when something demeaning has been done to you and make it clear that you will not tolerate it. If you make yourself clear the first time around, it sends a clear message across to the other person that, “I refuse to be treated that way” and people tend to not repeat it and take you for granted.

So my new mantra is to let everyone know my market value in today’s society. As I’ve said before, people will treat you the way you let them, so it’s up to you on how you want to be treated. Let your market value be so high that only people rich in character will be able to stand in your presence. Let your value be so high that those who can’t appreciate others will not walk into your life’s “store” and ask about your cost. Be an exclusive item; after all, there’s only one you, made especially for this world to respect and treasure!  


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