How do we measure our worth? Is it in the money we earn or the family to which we are born? Is it how well we embody the qualities that our culture considers important?
As a teenager manoeuvring the harsh landscape of school, I thought maybe my worth had something to do with popularity. If other people thought I was worth something, then surely that meant I was worth something.
As a university student, it seemed that my academic success and achievements had some part to play in my worth. As someone making new friends in a new city, perhaps it was my patience or my sense of humour.
Once I graduated university and moved back into the bedroom in which I’d spent my childhood years, it was clear to me that the fact I didn’t have a job meant that I was worth less than others. Perhaps it was the less than inspiring ambiance of the job centre; perhaps it was the regularity of the politely dismissive unsuccessful job applications. I didn’t feel like I was worth all that much.
But why? I had purpose. I had decided to use this time to compose. I had set a goal to write, produce and upload one hundred pieces of music in one hundred days and I was really enjoying it. I really enjoyed being unemployed. I’m very rarely bored. It’s one of the things I really like about myself.
And it’s only now that I know the reason I felt I wasn’t worth much was because I wasn’t earning much money and this meant I couldn’t buy things that showed the world just how much I was worth.
Just as school and university came with their own ways of measuring worth, adulthood presented me with a brand new one that I wasn’t expecting.
Popularity, academic success, being able to make new friends, being able to buy things that made me look successful… My whole way of measuring worth was broken. I was so preoccupied with what I was worth to other people that I hadn’t even considered what I was worth to myself.
I love spending time on my own. I love being in my own head. I love that I find it easy to be nice to people and that I become a more and more logical thinker each day.
If our measure of worth comes from what we think other people think of us, we will never be happy. And if we measure our worth using external sources such as material goods then we will never feel whole.
So what are you worth?