08.10.12 Truth & Wisdom
BY Dana Maxwell
When it comes to our self value, it’s difficult at times to not let our ego get in the way of what we think we are worth. Recently, I experienced a situation where my ego did all the thinking. I felt embarrassed in the moment and didn’t use my voice to stand up for myself. I think we can often feel silenced in groups because we want to feel accepted, but I am learning that there is no point in being accepted for something I am not. I never want my value to be based on outer influences; on things my ego may strive.
It’s easy to conform to society, to give into peer-pressure, or to create ideals for ourselves based on what others are doing. There is a sense of “acceptance” if we buy a product that someone respectable is using. Just look at all the commercials we watch every day touting the latest product. While I don’t think there is anything wrong with connecting to someone or purchasing something due to someone else’s recommendations or experiences – that’s actually a great way to be introduced to new things – I think it’s important to also know yourself well enough to make a decision based on your own needs and desires. Practicality is my nature, and I’ve never cared too much about brand names or full priced items. It shouldn’t matter whether a dress is purchased at Ross or at Nordstrom’s, but somehow in our culture it DOES seem to matter.
I recently went to happy hour after work with a few of my friends. We were having a great time and started taking out our phone cameras to capture some fun moments. One of my friends is famous for always reapplying lip gloss before each picture, which makes her look great while everyone else in the photo looks washed out! So we were giving her a hard time about it, all in good fun. When someone asked to snap a picture of me with her, I thought it would be funny to fumble through my purse real quick to grab my lip gloss too. As I pulled out my gloss, a new friend I had been introduced to that same evening said in front of everyone “OMG, is that a clearance sticker?!” I looked down at my gloss, glanced at the fluorescent orange clearance price tag sticking to it and said, “Yeah.” Before I knew it the gloss was grabbed out of my hand while she said, “Let’s take care of this right now,” and proceeded to pull off the sticker as best she could.
I remember instantly feeling a bit deflated, like suddenly my value as a person was decreased in a mere moment of fashion faux pas by a person I had just met. There is apparently price tag etiquette I was unaware of. I reflected on this moment, and the next day I realized that what had occurred wasn’t something I needed to own. It was something my new friend cared much more about than me. The clearance sticker had somehow made her feel uncomfortable. So much so that she wanted to rip it off, making the assumption that I would be or should be embarrassed by it too. It was easy in the moment to conform to that notion and not speak up. It wasn’t until later that I realized I hadn’t done myself justice by staying quiet.
Why did I stay quiet? I knew it had nothing to do with the clearance tag. I’ve learned that when we tap into something somebody says about us (even if it reflects them and not us), there is something deeper there. I have issues with rejection. There I said it! So when I was sarcastically scolded that night, it felt like I was being rejected. And again, that is ego talk. My ego wants to be liked. My ego wants to feel like I can afford the finer things in life. My ego wants to make an impression. But good ol’ me is a-okay with who I am, which is why I never gave that bright orange price tag a second thought and had left it on my gloss in the first place.
It is important to know what we do and don’t value in our life, and why. Do you identify with the clothes you wear? The sexy shoes you do or don’t strut in? The amount of money you make at your job? The car you drive? I don’t think there is anything wrong with feeling good about ourselves because we landed that top-paying gig, or got accepted to an amazing college, or finally afforded that Coach purse (if that’s what floats your boat). There is something to be said about working towards goals we want to accomplish. But putting value on external things is a dangerous game to play, because it means we will value ourselves less when those things are no longer affordable. What if we don’t nail that interview or don’t have a fancy engagement ring or can’t afford the latest iPad (or ANY iPad for that matter)? Are we any less valuable to our friends, our partner, ourselves? If we believe we are, we will be. Becoming whole is a work in progress, but the more we connect to who we are on the inside, the easier it will be to quiet our ego down and feel GOOD about who we are and about life itself.