Don't You Know You're Valuable?

Sunday, April 26, 2015 / 12:20 PM

"I used to be self-conscious about how much space I was taking up."

When I heard Hye Yun Park say those words the other week at a film panel/discussion, I felt a sudden thwack in my heart. All my life, that's something I've written at the top of every metaphorical page of my life story: How much space are you taking up today? 

To me, it was a reminder to stay quiet, unnoticed--not because my parents or my family encouraged it, but because it was something I imposed on myself. I was insecure about my medical troubles and wanted to be invisible. I didn't think I was worth noticing, and that's something I carried with me all through high school and college despite the best efforts of those around me to try to encourage and lift me higher. There would be times I would feel confident that I was worth something; there were many other moments when the insecurities would take over and I'd end up locked in a room panicking about what I was doing.

In the adult world, when you're out of the school bubble and in the workforce, if you're not confident that your work has value, that can put you in danger of getting walked all over. I know it because I've been there: unable to pitch ideas and help push other ideas forward; unable to see progress where you and others envision it. When that happens, your voice can feel diminished; your contributions, unnecessary. It's disheartening.

Someone I respect very much once warned me not to let it become a habit. "You don't want to become known as the person who is only really good at doing what she's told," she said. "People will see you as reliable, which is great, but there will be a lot of people who will take advantage of it. I see you as a leader, so be a leader."

I've thought a lot about that since she said it, and it made me realize that I hadn't been using my voice. I had given up, and gone back to trying to go unnoticed. Instead of physically locking myself in a room and having an anxiety attack, I was doing it metaphorically inside my brain and inside my heart.

Last week, the question was posed to me: "Do you believe the statement, 'you're valuable' only for others? Or for yourself too?" To answer truthfully: I believe it so much for others. For myself? Not so much.

So how does a person find his or her value? I'm open to your thoughts.

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  1. Your honesty always inspires me Traci Lee. I believe a huge source of value comes from being passionate and confident in your work AND your hobbies. It comes from taking adventures and making bold moves that might scare you in the beginning. It also comes from a lot of self love and a lot of self care.

    And also from eating endless Korean dumplings with your friends.