On determining your worthNovember 18, 2013 | 31 Comments
If you’ve ever wanted to get to the bottom of your deepest childhood wounds, stare unblinkingly at your creative terrors, or shine klieg lights on the dankest areas of your personal blind spot, I have a suggestion for you. Start your own business, preferably as a solopreneur. (Well, you could also write a book.)
When you work alone to launch an initiative that stems from your personal creativity and conviction and then put a price tag on it, you have just created the perfect storm for seeing what you really think of yourself. It’s like you’ve taken up residence in a hall of funhouse mirrors. If you receive a compliment or make a sale, you are tall and gorgeous. If your numbers come in below projections, you are squat and hideous. If you receive a message that a journalist has called you, you see yourself as put-together and on the leading edge. If you find she has called you for someone else’s contact info, you’re dressed in rags, about to trip on a rock.
As a solopreneur, every encounter turns into an encounter with self-worth. Every phone call, email, text message, business meeting, blog post, class, or conference is an opportunity to bolster or diminish ourselves. Each sale is a test of your belief in yourself and your offering. Invariably, the moment before hitting “publish,” great self-doubt arises. If someone buys it, self-esteem goes up. If no one does, it plummets.
I try to accrue as many positive moments as possible with the hope that someday I will reach a tipping point and no longer have to go through these calculations. Thus far, that day has not come. (I often tell my husband that my real job is managing my own moods.)
It never will.
Making the calculation is itself the problem. When I determine that I am unworthy, of course that undermines all of my efforts, not to mention zaps me of the energy needed to accomplish anything. And, while it feels great for a little while, it is equally as detrimental to determine that I am “worthy.” Worthiness is not mine to determine. It is inherent. It’s here right now and it is beyond question. Attempting to measure it is like trying to gauge the size of a mountain by crawling around on it. From one angle, it appears that the peak is just around the bend. Round that bend and you see that it’s much further (or closer) than you thought. All calculations are kind of useless. The mountain is what is. No matter how your perspective changes, this remains so.
You are what you are. You possess true brilliance, unique genius, and a singular point of view. Trying to gauge its worth is irrelevant. If your work happens to correspond with the current gestalt and you receive rewards for it, fantastic. If it doesn’t and you don’t, I’m sorry, I know how painful that is. But it doesn’t change your genius.
In addition to this genius, of course, no doubt you are also confused, mistaken, have pissed people off, and/or refuse to acknowledge your shortcomings. Thank god. I mean, it’s cliché to say so, but without these dark areas, you would have no platform from which to leap into uncertainty and it is in uncertainty that innovation, creativity, and wisdom are born. Seriously. Smooth sailing is not very interesting. At some point, anyone would fall asleep.
So as you go about this day and the invariable moments of “I suck” or “No, I don’t” arise, try to set both aside as momentary glimpses from a perspective that is bound to change before you get to the end of this paragraph. Remember: You’re allowed to feel excited, daunted, confused, depressed, exhilarated, bored, exhausted by your work. You’re just not allowed to doubt your worth.
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