Recently I’ve been really focused on advocating for myself whenever possible. Not in a cheesy marketing “Look at me, love me, think I’m the best” sort of way but rather in a “I know my worth” sense. As a woman (specifically a young woman) we tend to devalue ourselves or place our value in unhealthy outlets (our bodies rather than our minds). It’s easy to think you aren’t worthy of the promotion at work or the praise you receive for your creativity or a date with the cute guy you met at the gym. We devalue ourselves because we are so afraid of being unworthy so we lower our own sense of worth to avoid rejection and disappointment. We tell ourselves “if I accept a lower standard I won’t be disappointed by asking for a higher standard and falling short of it”. It’s the most backward logic, but we’re all guilty of it from time to time.
The problems only grow deeper and larger when we don’t advocate for ourselves though. When you don’t see your worth and demand a level of respect who is going to advocate for you? Rather than allowing ourselves to remain stunted in the middle school mentality that we aren’t cool enough or pretty enough or smart enough as young women we need to focus on cultivating our strengths while recognizing and striving to improve our weaknesses.
5 areas of your life you should always recognize your worth:
“Take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic” -Frida Kahlo
It can be difficult to admit when you aren’t being treated as valuable in a relationship (especially when you’re smitten with someone). Whether you are in a seriously abusive relationship or continuously hooking up with the frat guy who won’t text you back you aren’t being valued the way you should be! Deep down we often realize we aren’t receiving the love and respect we deserve but often push away the unsettling feeling or justify the shortcomings by internally “talking up” the man at fault. Ultimately it doesn’t matter if your beau is the president of his fraternity, volunteers helping kids with brain cancer or has traveled the world via sailboat six times before age 25; if he isn’t making you feel as if you’re wonderful, capable and magical he isn’t the right one for you.
2| In the Work Place:
“Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore”.-Lady Gaga
Defining your value in the workforce can be difficult especially when you are young! We all need to pay our duties and gain experience and often times experience on your resume means less fulfilling jobs (hello long lunch dates with the copier), smaller paychecks and putting in hours in a field that isn’t your dream (“moderately priced soaps are my calling“). However paying your dues and learning from experience shouldn’t mean settling for a career that drains the life out of you or erodes your character. Know when a position no longer suits you and have the courage to move on, likewise don’t be afraid to negotiate your salary or ask for a raise when you feel like you deserve one. It isn’t unappreciative to ask for a raise, work towards a promotion or leave a job that no longer helps you grow-it’s realizing your direction and working towards it tirelessly.
“People will kill you over time, and how they’ll kill you is with tiny harmless phrases like ‘Be realistic'”-Dylan Moran
Taking the time to create something unique and then sharing it with the outside world is often a vulnerable and frightening experience. When you have placed so much of yourself into a piece or project rejection or criticism is often the last thing you want to hear even when you recognize you need it. I think constructive criticism is incredibly useful and should not be ignored, however, I believe there are times you need to go your own way despite the opinions of others. Maybe that means resubmitting your novel to publisher after publisher after a slew of rejection letters, maybe that means setting up a booth at a Farmer’s Market to sell your jewelry even though your boyfriend thinks it is a waste of time and maybe it just means pursuing your dreams of becoming a painter even though it doesn’t seem practical. When it comes to creativity only you know what ignites that spark of energy, only you know the passions that make your heart sing! You might not be able to drop cubicle life and immediately sell your portraits to the MET but you can dedicate a few nights a week and Saturday mornings to your artwork. You can set up an Etsy shop or small business. Self doubt isn’t an option in the fragile “do or die” creative realm. You must believe in your ability or no one else will.
“You must always have faith in people. And most importantly, you must always have faith in yourself”.-Elle Woods, Legally Blonde
I’ve mentioned this before but one of my greatest fears (and insecurities) is being perceived as unintelligent. I know I am intelligent and capable and well read but occasionally I speak and a combo of Valley Girl and Sorority girl comes out and I’m left looking like the “dumb blonde” I am not. First of all there are multiple types of intelligence and we can’t all shine in every arena! While I understand myself intra-personally like a champ and can form sentences more clearly than most I would rather die than pick up a power tool and I have little to no interest in learning the science behind digestion or the inner workings of the ear. Luckily the world needs people who want to look through a microscope at bacteria as well as people who want to write articles about sex positions for Cosmo (and everybody in between). When someone speaks down to you because you don’t share the same innate intelligence as them take time to look inwardly and evaluate your strengths. Elle Woods is my personal hero (though fictional) when it comes to advocating for your own intelligence, when I am feeling dejected or self conscious I like to blast the Legally Blonde soundtrack and remind myself that just because someone underestimates me does not allow them to define my worth.
5|Your Values & Sense of Self:
“If I make a fool of myself, who cares? I’m not frightened by anyone else’s perception of me”.-Angelina Jolie
This category is all encompassing of both the arenas I’ve described previously and areas I’ve left untouched. The older I’ve grown the more I’ve learned to recognize that my values are just that “MY OWN”. While I strive to live according to the beliefs I hold true I can’t (and shouldn’t) force these same values upon others. Knowing what I need to remain balanced and well has been useful in my friendships, love life and career. For example, I am aware that I need a very delicate balance of social and “me time” to feel healthy. If I spend 5 nights a week home alone watching Netflix and spooning Ben & Jerry’s into my mouth I will go insanely stir crazy! However if I book up every evening with dinners and workout classes and meetings I will become overwhelmed and therefore much less productive overall. I know I need a balance and since my balance is so deeply personal (different from my best friend’s balance or my boyfriend’s balance) I need to advocate for this balance on my own. Advocating for my sense of self means forcing myself to workout more often than I hit up the bars, saying “no” to a social activity even when I’m not “busy” some nights just so I can read and getting outside in the sunshine for a few minutes every day and breathing the fresh air. Your personal values won’t be the same as mine and that is okay, the important part is realizing your own values and actively advocating for them in a world filled with a whole mess of people and their own values.
How do you recognize your own value and play upon your strengths? How do you remind yourself to see your own value when you aren’t feeling confident?