I want to write on something a bit different today. The Love Yourself Linkup has been a great way to explore ideas and personal stories on self-image, but for this post I would like to focus on something we tend to forget about until it’s corrupted – the value of our professional work. It’s a different kind of self-love that’s not often given attention due to cultural norms in the American workforce. When I say value, I mean in it a variety of senses: monetarily, creatively, metaphorically. As young professionals in a depression era, we’re unfortunately subject to a skewed value system in which the unemployed abound and the employed tread lightly for fear of losing their coveted positions, even if they’re really not so great. Too often we let our desire to be liked dictate the course of action we take when wanting to take a stand for our worth.
I wanted to speak on this topic because I have way too many talented friends and colleagues who are being taken advantage of, without them even knowing it. Unfortunately, I’ve experienced it firsthand as well. It’s become so evident to me recently because I’m a mid-20-something meaning all of the people I socialize with are going through a similar professional crossroads. You usually begin at the bottom of the totem pole after you graduate college. I graduated 2010 with a Bachelor in Fine Arts, entering the workforce at probably the worst time to have such a degree. And so the imposed societal instinct is to suck it up and take what you can get, if you can get anything at all. Prove yourself worthy, exceed their expectations, and stay quiet. While I still believe this sort of work ethic is important, it also underscores the rip current that takes you further and further away from reaching the status and value you actually deserve.
Please find the courage within to fight for what you are worth. As much as I want to believe that hard work alone can get you anywhere, this is simply not the truth in today’s society. Had I made my own interests and goals a priority before those of the companies I worked for, perhaps I would be in a different place right now. This is one of those harsh life lessons that everyone has to learn sooner or later, but I’m hoping that reading this will allow you to recognize it for yourself and advocate it for others.
Additionally, I fear that women in particular have a tough time putting this into action. The negative associations we have with women who are “demanding” can subliminally trap us into being the most tame and docile versions of ourselves. I know it’s difficult. It’s difficult to believe someone would not give you the proper credit for the work you do. You want to believe with all your heart that the world is fair and you will receive what you deserve in some form or another, whether it be money or praise or promotion. But the world is what it is and so it lies in your hands and your hands alone. Take all that hope and invest it into yourself over anyone else. Transform it into motivation and take control of the work that you’ve done. The only way others will find value in you is if you continue to cultivate value within yourself. Do it.
Have you ever been in a situation when you realized your work was being undervalued? What did you do to restore your self-worth and claim what was rightfully yours?
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