How much are you really worth?

The teacher held up a $500 bill and asked the class: “Who wants this bill?”

Practically the entire classroom raised their hands. The teacher crumpled the bill forcefully, balling it up in his hand. “Who wants it now?” Again, the whole class raised hands. Now the teacher tossed the balled-up bill onto the floor and trampled it furiously, then smoothed it out and held it up again. “What about now?”. The students kept their hands raised, and the teacher’s response was this:

“My friends, you have learned a very important lesson today. Even though I have crumpled up this bill, I have thrown it to the floor and trampled it, you still want it because even though it is stained and tattered, it did not lose  its value. The same is true about people. Many times throughout our lives, we get beaten by twists of fate, we make mistakes, some people reject us and we feel worthless. But in truth, even in your worst moments, your value remains the same”.

“Never doubt your worth. You never cease to be valuable, treasured, loved. Not even when you feel undeserving”.

 

 

We go through life creating relationships of different kinds with people. First it is our parents, and our siblings if any, then more relatives, cousins, aunts and uncles  and so on. A few years later you create bonds of varying strength and depth with your fellow toddlers at the kindergarten, and your teacher… as you grow up, these relationships become more complex. More teachers, and more varied personalities, especially when your hormones run amok.

Time goes on, and you begin to become aware of the need to be useful and thus appreciated. Especially at an early age, when you still see the world through rainbow glasses, it feels completely natural to be kind, selfless. Your first friendships are forged and you feel like nothing could ever go wrong… and yet, more often than not, you are in for a very rude awakening. Your secrets are thrown into the wind, your trust is betrayed and played with like confetti, and your most honest words and actions are made worthless. It is not without reason that it is called ‘heartbreak’, because that is exactly how it feels. Especially when you are in love.

What of your looks? Oh, we are especially unforgiving on this regard. For some stupid reason we cling to ridiculously unrealistic standards of ‘beauty’, and many of us choose to ignore the fact that such… shapes and measurements are pretty much impossible straight from nature. Our models not only follow absurdly punishing habits in order to keep with their shape (such as feeding on toilet paper, true story), they also go under the knife repeatedly (The real Barbie & Ken, anyone?)… AND they still have to be doctored through digital means like the almighty Photoshop (go look for a few videos around the interwebs. You will be surprised).

People in general do not help matters because they simply give not a damn about your feelings (if they are faking such disinterest, they do a marvelous job). The most trifling kindnesses are all but forgotten. A sensitive person is “a person who, because he has corns himself, always treads on other people’s toes“, said Oscar Wilde, and it is a description that feels too fitting nowadays. Woe is me, so I woe you! It is as appallingly illogical as it is widespread. Initially when faced with this injustice, you are like ‘awww they are mean because they have never known kindness! If I am kind to them then they will acknowledge it and be kind as well!’. And thus begins your quest for showing appreciation, gratitude, letting people around you know that you cherish them, opening your heart. And what happens? SQUASH. When you’re lucky, your good spirits are flatout ignored. When you are unlucky, well… you get downright trampled. So let’s see, you’re ugly, you’re useless, you’re pointless… and you are supposed to feel worthy?

I have seen this, lived this, from pretty much all angles. I have struggled with self-worth issues for the most part of my life. First, I was (still am) the nerd, the bookworm, the weird, the shy. I was the one targeted by bullies. When I grew up, I experienced irrational hatred in the flesh, and I endured it for years. Later on, I reached out, and poured myself into nurturing friendships which I had not had until then; bonds that I found meaningful and which I cherished… only to see them go up in flames and be scorched in the process (more than once). I have also seen others who have been battered and burned so bad, they will not believe me when I tell them that I cherish them, no matter what I do. The words I say, the promises I offer, are all words that had already been spoken by someone before me… words that are tainted. No matter what I do or say, they believe themselves ugly and worthless, and they refuse to believe that they are worth loving… they refuse to believe that I love them. And it is sad, very sad, because they are bright, beautiful souls… broken souls. And you have no idea how many times I ponder, if only I had arrived to their life sooner. Yes, yes, I know and I agree, there are no happenstances, if paths are crossed only now, it is because it had to be now and not sooner. But I digress.

Thus, armed with the understanding given to me, the mental vagabond that I am wanders through the maze of conscience and empathy, seeking an answer that is in fact already out there, spoken in many ways and with many voices; but which we (me included) often refuse to hear because… oh, for many reasons, really. Often, our pain clouds our judgement. Other times, it looks too pretty to be true. Or too complicated. So, for your sake and mine, let me repeat it and remind all of us:

You, and only you, decide how much you are really worth.

You are responsible for your deeds, for your reactions, and only you know what lies in your heart. You decide your worth, nobody else; in part because often people around you do not know what is truly valuable (gold for mirrors, anyone?). But you do, and more importantly: you are not the only one who does. Do not give up, do not close off your heart. Do not think yourself unworthy of what or whom life offers to you… because if you think yourself unworthy, then you will be unworthy, and since you are so intent on losing it, you will lose it. Don’t give up the search for happiness, for love, for your dreams, and especially, remember there are more people like you, so… find the others! And remember:

Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind
– Dr. Seuss

See you next week.

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