Where Confidence Collides With Self-Devaluation
I had my first review with my new employer. This is my first “real” job in a “real” adult-type career that I’ve ever had in my life.
I have waited tables in regular restaurants and in a comedy club, managed both as well; worked as a directory assistance operator briefly; entered zip codes for the post office at night while I was pregnant with and after giving birth to my second baby; and then created my stay-at-home work as a medical transcriptionist, followed by my career as a trainer and massage therapist. And then, of course, the job of wife and mother, followed by ex-wife and single mother, followed by ?????????? Yikes – that’s a variety of jobs.
I don’t think waiting tables or managing a comedy club count as real careers. There’s too much flirting taking place while on the job and a lot of drinking after work.
Furthermore, it’s probably safe to say that any job where you collect a handout in the form of a tip as the major source of income is not really an “adult-type” career either – and I say that with gratitude and respect, having spent half of my working life making a living earning tips.
I’ve been seeking to determine where my low self-value lies, which is different from confidence and self-esteem. I’ve never been able to determine the price or worth of what I do or who I am because I have spent most of my life performing my best at what I do, and allowing other people to determine the value for that performance, which has amounted to the cash in their pockets.
And it’s probably more than that too…There are flecks of female mixed with the unicorn inside me.
Stereotypically speaking, we females are not taught to value ourselves with dollar amounts because we work domestically as wives and mothers, for which the value of those jobs is determined by the cash (and love unfortunately) in the husband’s pocket, and in my case, the pay was shitty in both areas, which required me to hustle for cash in other people’s pockets…strictly monetarily.
I didn’t have love or seek it elsewhere, which led to an entirely different level of poverty, my lack of intimacy.
And when that marriage fails – notice, I said “when,” – then what? Our appearance is a major factor in how we value ourselves, plus the handouts of cash and love in other people’s pockets, while we pick up the shattered pieces of self-esteem, self-worth, confidence… continue to work as mothers and ex-wives for which there is no longer any perceived value or compensation except as insults and court battles, plus earn an income where we are required to come up with a dollar figure to charge other people for our skill-set, talent, knowledge…things that we have only ever given away in exchange for cash, love, and lint in someone else’s pocket.
That’s a big AHA moment.
So it’s safe to say that I’m very damaged on a multitude of levels – focusing here on the value of my work. The real question now is – How do I repair the damage? Probably an even greater question might be: Was there ever a time when I was not damaged?
“Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive.”
Strength: The Value In An Ass Kicking
During my review, I sat across from The Skipper, my boss.
It’s funny really because he is nothing at all like The Skipper from Gilligan’s Island. He’s Italian and we use a lot of Mafia terminology when we speak about him and to him, but one day, I called him Skipper, and the name has just stuck for me.
He told me that I’m “kicking ASS!”
This job is challenging because I’ve gone from solo, paid-by-the-minute, self-enslaved, quasi-business owner, whose value has been determined by the cash and random lint in someone else’s pocket, to being a salaried member of a tight-knit team comprised of wonderful people, who share my core values (maybe express them slightly differently) and who are at least 15-20 years younger than me.
Age has nothing to do with anything really. It’s a silly insignificant number with less value than the cash and lint in my clients’ pockets and is more about perception.
But having more life experience outside of the building where I earn my income brings certain value, and I have trouble recognizing that.
Even more of a challenge is letting go of the “paid-by-the-minute” model of earning income, which has been all I have ever known.
I’ve been working myself to death, scheduling call after call after call, without a break, not even for lunch or for meetings or for random chit-chat, and leaving the followup to those calls for the weekends, without a break –
…because woven into my cellular structure is this: “I don’t get paid unless I’m working.”
Intellectually and logically speaking, I know this is bullshit. And I teach other people how to maximize their earning potential by shifting their products from an hourly-type model to a subscription-based, evergreen, repeatable, digital, do-the-work-once-and-automate-the-process model, so they can become rich.
I can and should do that for myself too. Therein lies the problem…I haven’t been. Why? The truth is, when I do, I will be rich. So why am I putting it off? Do I really enjoy being a lint pickpocket? The answer is, “No, I do not.”
I had been basically paying myself nothing and working-by-the-minute so I can survive even when I’m working myself to death, and when I recognized what I was doing, I put some time off on the board.
I slowed down just a bit…stopped racing around like a lunatic. I took a couple of deep breaths and went outside. I went on some long walks, and I listened to some comedy…some very talented storytellers.
I did ask for some comedic suggestions – One FB friend asked back, “What kind do you like?” …
…to which I replied, “The kind that makes me laugh.” …DUH!
During my review, The Skipper repeated himself and told me I was kicking ass (clearly my own). He then asked me to come up with a goal for myself that would benefit me and the team.
I said that I could teach the things that I know about websites, writing, marketing strategy, social media – all of my channels of shameless self-promotion that I utilized in order to maximize the number of pockets with cash and lint that walked through my door.
I also shared a moment of somewhat intimacy, where I explained this lack of self-value and how I continue to give myself away.
I explained the above, when I asked myself, “Why am I not following up with my products and putting it out there?”
It’s because the VALUE that I have placed on it (because I charge a low fee or give it away) is less than taking a break…because I have not put the appropriate price tag on what it is that I do to work on that project to reap the benefits of what I know and can teach. That requires confidence, which I seemingly have a ton of. Ironically, my confidence is a skill to survive not to thrive.
Furthermore, I had historically, prior to July, surrounded myself with people professionally who provided me with lint in exchange for me working my ass off on the behalf of the team – I speak this without blame because I allowed it and didn’t value my talent or skill-set, and didn’t have a number to give them. They opened their pockets and offered their lint.
Threat: Using Confidence In My EDC
Survivalists plan for catastrophes and should have their EDCs (every day carries) with them. My EDC is filled with confidence to use when I need it. That’s good, right? Um…
In my review, The Skipper also pointed out that I have a great deal of confidence and that can be intimating, as if I had been using it as a weapon.
Inside, I was laughing my ass off. My “confidence” is actually a survival skill. It comes from me having a chat with myself, where I say, “Self, you have two choices…these are the results…survive or die.”
Therefore, I am confident to survive. But I haven’t had value around that confidence. Such that, I will isolate myself because I don’t think anyone would benefit from what comes easy for me.
The things that come easily for me are things that I go into my EDC – for my survival.
I can feel that “flight or fight” going on inside me, and I’ve had panic attacks in the night and seriously disturbed sleep.
Sure I do too much – It’s to survive. But I think the sleep disturbance is telling me to shift from surviving to thriving because I’m in a position to do so, and anyone with post-traumatic stress could tell you that it’s really hard to adjust from surviving to thriving…the bed is uncomfortable…I wake up prepared for battle and think about it later.
The SWOT Smoothie
Somewhere on my self-damaging life’s journey, I mixed self-value, with “love” and with money – and put them all in a giant blender and created a nonsense myth-filled SWOT smoothie, the myth being that these are interdependent ingredients that I need in order to survive.
And now I’m slurping this smoothie with a straw and extracting the vital bits, separating them out, and putting the ingredients back where they belong.
Being a unicorn is awesome – I feel like my whole complete self as a unicorn. But it’s really unclear if there is an adult-type future in it either, whatever that means. I was told to have faith – and for the first time in my life, I do. It’s shaky sometimes, but that’s when I bravely pick up the phone and text CA, and then we talk or get together…schedule some sex.
That’s about all the cuddling and lovey stuff I can muster. The result is fun and I can breathe again.
But I think the real key to making the shift from survivalist to thrivalist lies in declaring my value and not wavering. Because I no longer have to hustle for tips or bend over backwards to maximize the lint I can collect from people’s pockets.
It’s time to shift from damaged survivalist fixer-upper, most-of-the-time unicorn to full-fledged, rock-star, all-the-time unicorn.