Why you need to know (and show you know) your worth.

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It’s always tiring coming across someone particularly arrogant, whether that’s in the workplace, in your personal life, or at friend and family gatherings. 

Those that believe that they are set apart from the rest, or that act entitled, tend to be considerably narcissistic. Obtaining delusional ideas about their abilities, qualities and superiority. Although projecting a sense of unwavering self-confidence which, on many levels, is incredibly admirable, it has always been a disposition that, conscientiously, I’ve evaded. And my naive and continual hope that others will share in my set of values, including the antithesis of pride, that of humility, has proven both beneficial and detrimental throughout my life.

Many believe that in remaining grounded, and keeping a certain level of humility, they will be better orientated towards serving others. In not having an elevated opinion of oneself, those with humility are meant to have better discipline in their work, be more committed partners and better respected as leaders. It is something that I have seen brought to light in the lives of friends, the stories of respectable politicians, and in my own experiences.

Kathy Caprino indicated in Forbes that many individuals are raised with “an over-sized sense of entitlement and superiority, yet are deprived of real love and unconditional support”, leading to a “lack of true self-awareness and of a healthy level of self-esteem and confidence”. It’s a truth so clearly reflected in the attitudes of many around us. And it’s interesting to see how, in spite of it’s toxicity, it’s prevalence has led to it becoming, to a certain degree, a desirable trait.

With this in mind, it’s important to understand that, with societies idealisations of self-confidence being so diverse, being overly humble and submissive can result in one being overlooked, undermined and disrespected.

Character, so to speak, is not always assessed on what is done in private, but the ability to display one’s achievements and abilities loud and proud. So, while it is great to be quietly confident and possess healthy levels of self-esteem, making one not inclined to justify, seek praise or gain validation for their every action, things may need to be spelled out to those that only look to the surface. Applying humility, a ‘freedom from pride or arrogance’, in every area of your life, is not something that should be turned from, providing your self worth is in tact, but it is an application that can be controlled. A healthy self-esteem and self-assurance should be brought to the forefront, made external in instances wherein others lack the perception and discernment to notice it.

So, while, by no means does projecting an image of superiority and self-confidence reflect innate confidence and significant ability, knowing when this air must come through is a form of emotional intelligence. Speaking out on your accomplishments will not be you adopting the insecurities of others, but rather, knowing your worth, in seizing the opportunities in which you must actively and justly defend it.

Do you have a healthy self-esteem, and faith in your abilities, yet feel as though you constantly have to prove this to others? How did you deal with this? Let me know in the comments section.

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What does it mean to value your time?

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We have all heard the saying that ‘time is precious’, but what does it look like when the ideology is manifested in one’s reality? The majority of people know the obvious forms of time management. Going to bed at a reasonable hour so that they can wake up early for work; planning their days in their diaries or their heads so that it is extra productive, and planning activities and events in advance for memorable and stress-free experiences.

Following the basic principles is great, as they will determine, to a certain extent, a successful and joyful life.

However, can you imagine the control and command you would have over your life if you, near literally, did not let a minute go to waste? Of course, you have to be realistic and allow for a certain degree of spontaneity. Nevertheless, with more effective time management than is standard, you can ensure that each area of your life is nurtured, and, you will allow yourself to get within better reach of true fulfilment and balance.

Valuing your time in the workplace could look like keeping your phone switched off, so that you can fully focus. It looks like listening to, and fully taking on board, feedback, rather than letting your mind wander. Looking at what appears to be setbacks or failures, from an outside eye, as a learning experience, a moment that facilitated growth. It can look like using your reflections to propel you into making more informed, aware, steps, instead of moping and dwelling on the negatives.

In relationships it could mean not staying in, nor tolerating, situations in which you are being disrespected, unappreciated or that do not help you to grow. If you are single, valuing your time could mean being thoughtful in your approach to finding a partner. Having enough self-awareness to assess if another person would be a good fit for your values, personality and lifestyle. As many people know, early signs of incompatibility could lead to conflict later down the line.

In terms of your health, it could mean maintaining discipline in your fitness and your diet. Making it a priority to go running, dancing or maybe spinning, week-in and week-out. Dedication to packing a healthy lunch the night before, time and time again.

And what is the end product of sustaining awareness towards each area of your life? The equivalent in success, surely. While you do not need to plan your life down to the T, it is good to know that, usually, in making conscientious choices, you can truly steer, take the reigns, of your life. 

Taking ownership of, and making the most of, your time, then, seems to be what it means to value it.

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Becoming captivated by Michelle Obama

 

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Ever read a biography and felt as though you were reading your own words? Or maybe, talking to your best friend? I definitely felt like I had that experience when reading Michelle Obama’s latest book, Becoming. There’s so many moments in her recollections that strike a nerve. So many comments that aptly tap into the way I, and, I’m sure, many others among you, view the world. Perhaps one of my favourite recurring themes throughout the book, is her continual desire to grow herself, to push her limits, to keep getting better.

Self-Growth

Making revelations about he growth mind-set from her youth to date, in ‘Becoming Me’, Michelle poignantly questions her own past perceptions that she would, quite finitely, become a lawyer after her Ivy League education.

As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you becoming something and then that’s the end.”

It’s common knowledge that Michelle had practised as a lawyer in her early adult life. Only that now she has disclosed her true perceptions towards the esteemed profession. Her determination to move forward in the world, to be held, socially, in high regard, maintained her loyalty to a career that she was beginning to resent for it’s indirect approach to instigating mass change.

This, most certainly, comes as a breath of fresh air, to individuals tired of hearing idealisations of institutional, by-the-book success.

Her message rings clear. The established path, the traditional routes to success, will not necessarily lead to personal fulfilment. An important reminder for us all.
Of course, leaving behind her piled desk at the law firm, Michelle went on to pursue a career in community work and politics.

It’s helped me, and it should help you, take away the sense that, whilst a certain path might appear attractively clear-cut, there’s no guarantee that it will lead you to the ideal destination. Life, so to speak, is a journey wherein, sometimes, you have to venture down a path just to know that it’s the wrong way.

Friendships and early influences.

I found myself inwardly smiling at the description of Michelle’s best friend in College, Suzanne. A track runner and avid dance class attendee, Suzanne, according to Michelle, was the kind of girl that based the majority of her decisions on how fun they were likely to be, and swiftly changed direction when they “messed with her joy“. This is something that I have tended, and still tend to do.

Barack’s apparent contradictory nature, “serious without being self-serious” and “breezy in his manner but powerful in his mind“, brought to mind certain fond friends of mine that have this lethal trait combination. A laid-back manner and steely focus. Demonstrative of her genuine character, is Michelle’s exposure of her cravings for authenticity in her friendships. It’s a terrible feeling, suspecting that someone in your inner circle is only there to gain something, rather than out of genuine affection for you.

Michelle touches on this issue of fake friends that were beginning to plague her life as first lady. Down-to-earth, “thirsty” is the word she and Barack uses to describe the people blatantly attempting to claw their way into her inner circle as an effort to boost their own status.

Growing real friendships, it would seem, and by Michelle’s standards, resides in identifying those that truly care about you and holding them close.

Barack

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In ‘Becoming Us’, the picture Michelle paints of Barack unearths the deep-seated respect underpinning their relationship. Barack is illustrated as having always been aspirational, envisioning the world as what it could become, what it should be. One story she reminisces of Barack near-preaching to a group of elderly women, raising spirits and instilling hope, in the basement of a church is intimate and heart-warming. A recollection that disintegrates the stereo-typically distant, impersonal image of a politician on a far off platform, to an accessible, close-to-home, community spirit.

A man that never aspired to fame, or to fortune, but, rather, just wanted to make a difference. Sounds almost like a fantasy, right?

Depth of character and honesty, qualities that Michelle admires in Barack, are juxtaposed with the shallow qualities that some of her friends looked for in a partner. Assets like financial prospects and looks being placed higher on the scale than intangible wholesomeness.

Money never drove us, yet look where we are, Michelle seems to be whispering.

Education

Before reading her biography, I never really knew too much about the initiatives Michelle introduced whilst in the White house. I was surprised to learn that Arts & Culture is something that she wanted to give more ground in education.
In the UK at least, for as long as I can remember, creative subjects including music, art, dance and drama have always been overshadowed by the academic subjects.

Of course, the incredible value of academia cannot be denied. The intellectual skills that academia cultivates will always be essential for the functioning of society. Nevertheless, it’s an unhealthy approach to place it entirely in the spotlight and leave the arts to cower in the shadows. The cultural enrichment that the arts has to offer should not be overlooked.

Remarking on how she’d been raised on Jazz, piano recitals, Operatta Workshops and museum trips, she expresses the importance of arts and culture in developing children:

it’s not a luxury but a necessity to their overall educational experience.

I relished the sight of high schoolers mingling with contemporary artists like John Legend, Justin Timberlake, and Alison Krauss as well as legends like Smokey Robinson and Patti LaBelle.

Honesty

Finally, other than Michelle’s perpetual praise of optimism, ambition and growth throughout the entirety of this book, what really hooked me from the very first page was Michelle’s commitment to integrity. How can anyone not admire someone with an innate purpose of telling “the truth“, using their voice to “lift up the voiceless” when they can and not disappear “on people in need“?

For a long time, I’m sure, these closing words in her story will resonate with me,

There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.”

They’ve given me a sense of empowerment. To be unafraid in taking ownership of even the grittier, imperfect fragments of my life. Indeed, every life can be used to inspire and raise up others.

Too afraid to do what you really want to do? Listen to this.

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All our lives, we have been conditioned to believe that the “good jobs” are those you get as a Doctor, a Lawyer, a Teacher or a Dentist (or another position within the traditional professional variety). Ever been praised at school for excelling in a subject, “You’re so good at [insert traditional academic subject]!”, to then be greeted with the declaration, “You should be a [insert traditional professional career course]!”.

And who blames them?

The unconventional routes were scarcely trodden in the textbooks or the career advice they were given at school. Still, today, the classroom directs our focus to finding the value of x and discovering how photosynthesis works. The bright students are the ones that can absorb as much of this information as possible and ace their tests, apparently. At school I was a goody two-shoes and so I bought into this. There was no way that I’d slack with my revision and get a C when I knew I was perfectly capable of an A.

The issue I have, is what our motivation has been and is still channelled towards. As relevant as Maths, Science and English is for entering specific career paths, why weren’t we, why aren’t students now being encouraged to find their own purpose, their own direction, which may or may not involve understanding how to find the square root.

As naïve and as misconceiving as a 15-year-old may be about what they actually want their future to look like, we know that, by this age, we had a pretty good grasp of our strengths and weaknesses.

But we weren’t in an environment that allowed us to push our strengths to the max.

The school environment promotes mediocrity across a stretch of subjects which may or may not be of interest to us.

Entrepreneurship is huge now – with people trying to break away from the 9-5 to work for themselves and their own personal and financial gain. But is it not sad, that it’s not until we emerge from the education system and thrown into the working world, that we begin to pursue our #passionprojects?

Ever since I went to my first baby ballet class, dancing has given me so much happiness. And ever since I knew how to write, I loved to use words to express myself, whether that was in the form of poetry, diary entries or stories. I have no regrets about studying BA English at one of the best universities for the subject in the country. It stretched and challenged me in ways that allowed me to grow. To become the much stronger person that I am today. But throughout the entire degree, I couldn’t help but feel restrained from exploring my side passions, letting myself experiment and try new things. From wondering.

But I understood that commitment means making sacrifices. As with anything, to become great at it, you have to put off developing other skills. Which is why you need to ensure that you are committing to what you believe is right for you, not what society believes is right for you.

Self-awareness means understanding your innate desires and granting yourself the freedom to go after them, right from the start.

A textbook, your boss and society can’t tell you what you love. You need to realize this on your own.

Following your intuition.

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You know that thing you’ve always thought you’d be good at? You know, that thing tucked right at the back of your mind, and never fully faced, because you never truly believed that you could do it. Well, isn’t it about time that you dusted off the cobwebs and brought it to light?

Perhaps you recognise yourself as being a realist, aka, someone that dislikes frittering away their energy on childish fantasies and ideas and prefers taking more of a practical route. A route that guarantees security. In many ways I see myself as one of these people. Though it doesn’t necessarily reflect who I am. I would say it has been more of a reflection of what I believe. That if I’m going to be successful, then I’m going to have to take the conventional route, the route that society as a mass guides me to take. I went to University and studied a subject that I have always loved, English Literature, though who is to say that I couldn’t have become just as educated in this subject from independent learning?

There’s no doubt that, with the many deadlines and challenging assessment criteria, my written communication skills have been enhanced significantly, though, weren’t my written skills already competent enough, having achieved an A grade in A level English Literature? Although I’m a big advocate for education, I cannot say that I can completely justify a system that demands you spend 40k on a course, just to get your foot on the ladder. The way my 18 year-old self saw it, was that if I was going to study anything at University, it had to be something my heart was in.

If it wasn’t a labour of love, then it wasn’t worth it.

So, my degree was just that, a labour of love, and I have no regrets whatsoever. However, if there’s one thing that I could change, was the steps I took straight out of University. Still running on adrenalin from the rush of third year, I launched myself into the first role I was offered.

Effective decision-making is integral throughout your career. Whether this is in accepting a new position, coming up with a business idea or making an investment, you need to be clued-up before taking the leap.

Oh the 9-5.

There’s nothing wrong with it. But find yourself a workplace that will respect and care for your well-being, and that’s not solely concerned with squeezing you like a lemon. You want to be challenged, but not to the point where it drains you of all your energy which you could be spending on other things, including your hobbies and personal ambitions.

Pursuing a role that aligns with your passions involves finding a role wherein you can exercise your skills, but not to the point that it makes you feel inhibited to pursue the big passions in your life.

Trust your gut.

If the position you’re in is draining you of your emotional and spiritual strength, look for another. Your health (and your time), is your wealth, and if you’re not spending it on something that is supporting it, nor bringing meaning into your life, then it isn’t worth it.