Following on from yesterday's post and the discussion I had last night with the lovely Tess over on Facebook, I wanted to talk a little more about self-worth and valuing ourselves properly. Recognising and claiming the value we all inherently possess as humans is essential for women - and especially so for young women.
It's crucial that we learn to do so across all areas of our lives - in relationships, friendships, and in work situations, because I can guarantee you, that if we don't value ourselves, then neither will anybody else. Not valuing our own skills, thoughts, emotions, bodies, time or efforts can lead to exploitation (now this piece is NOT about victim blaming), and can result in feelings of anger, resentment and depleted confidence. We end up feeling as if we don't deserve any better and that we're incapable of achieving any better. It causes us to settle for shit sandwiches - ick!
Regardless of what we think about this whole Essena Saga, I've been reflecting on how easy it is for us (many of whom have a good few years of experience and life learning on her) to judge her from the outside. It's easy for us to point out the lack of introspection, and to see her "Pay What You Think It's Worth" ideal on her new website as a scam.
Just because many of us have been studying how to build the "Know Like and Trust" factor, and if you've ever watched Always Sunny in Philidelphia, you'll know that the first step of the D.E.N.N.I.S. System (DON'T ever subscribe to the D.E.N.N.I.S. System) is to DEMONSTRATE VALUE before asking for anything. It's easy to view her as naive and to ask, "Why doesn't she just go and get a real job, rather than asking other people to pay her way?"
Something it has made me do, is reflect on what 19 Year Old Kym was up to.
The truth is that 19 Year Old Kym was a TOTAL CLUSTER FUCK.
She was drunk at a house party in the outer suburbs with a bunch of Punks, Goths, and boys with shit-box go-fast cars with stupidly loud exhausts.
She was failing most of her classes at university while keeping herself wrapped up in guilt and depression.
She barely slept.
She definitely was NOT talking on YouTube about the way in which she was engaging with social media (MySpace and MSN were still things then) was fuelling her negativity and eating away at her soul.
19 Year Old Kym was working herself into the ground across three different jobs (on top of a full time study load with placement rounds), and by the time she put petrol in her car and stocked up on text books, art supplies and vodka, never had anything to show for it.
She lived at home and was angry at pretty much the entire world.
When I say that I was working myself into the ground, I wasn't kidding. One of the jobs I held (and this was by far the worst job I've ever held, and even trumps the time I had a client set my car on fire.) was in a large retail nursery. I was paid well under minimum wage by a Boss who in NO way valued any of the staff. I spent my days lifting, carrying and shifting trees, plants and building supplies which weighed more than I did, and would head home soaking wet, covered in dirt, and in a whole world of pain.
While that Boss was a jerk (and the Fair Work Ombudsman caught up with him in the end), I ended up staying in that job for THREE SOUL DESTROYING YEARS.
At the end of the day, people will only ever treat you like shit if you allow them to.
I never stood up for myself, and I didn't believe it was worth the disappointment of being knocked back for other better jobs.
I didn't believe that I was worthy of better.
I didn't believe that it was possible for me to get another job without any real qualifications - Somehow, I had convinced myself that being a certified Integration Aide didn't count...
So instead of going out and finding a job where I felt rewarded, fulfilled or appreciated, I dug myself into a rut so deep that eventually I would drive to work in tears because of how awful being there was.
It's taken me a REALLY long time to start to feel comfortable with claiming my worth around work, and establishing boundaries around what I'm no longer willing to tolerate. On that front I totally respect seeing someone so young at least TALKING about her experiences as a result of not truly valuing herself.
I wholeheartedly believe that we as women need to continue shining brightly - and to keep talking about what it's taken to get us to where we are now. I would love to see a future where nobody is willing to settle for second best - let alone shit.
I think it's important to remember that we don't know what we don't know - and that we can't expect others to know something just because we do. Really, the best thing we can do, is to start where we are, tell ourselves that we deserve to be happy - regardless of what has happened to us in the past, and to be the kind of change we want to see in the world.
Ultimately, it all starts with us.