Why I Stopped Measuring My Self-Worth and Trying to Prove Myself

“You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anyone.” ~Maya Angelou

Which is your measure of self-worth and worthiness? How much you make in a year. By the number of lines on your resume? The number of people that follow you on Facebook?

What if your self-worth was never measured again? It is my goal.

As a child, I was gifted and had high expectations. This drove me to exceed them. I got the highest grades possible, was awarded a scholarship for a university in my area, and I soon found myself at the most prestigious law school in the nation.

My self-worth rose because of all my achievements. It was a feeling that I had achieved more than my peers. This boosted my self-esteem. I felt safe in this comfort zone I’d created. 

My perspective on the world was drastically altered by law school. The smartest, most gifted people in my peer group were among the best and brightest of our country. To prove my worth, I attempted to compete against them. But I was unable to make a difference and felt accomplished.

Within a matter of months my self-esteem began to crumble, taking with it my lofty senses of worth. It was hard to feel comfortable and I felt out of place.

To put it all back together, I reached out to strangers on the internet to regain my self-worth. Social media was my main source of superficial praise and comment. For a little validation, I made side-hustles out of my passions.

I was desperate to find some new measure of success on which I could rely. Before it was too late, I didn’t realize the extent of my desperation.

For so many years, my ego protected me from doubt. I felt inadequately satisfied once it ended. After I became convinced that I was a failure I kept pushing myself to be better in every area. I treated myself as the worst and compared myself with the best.

My downward spiral led to my worthlessness. My mental health was not what I expected. It wasn’t until I took the time to look at my situation that it became clear to me how my life seemed like a never-ending race to get some cheese. My efforts to prove my worth led me to empty-handed.

It is not enough to chase self-worth. You must always look for ways to improve your self-worth.  

Why is it that so many people believe their worth is contingent? It is hard work.

Many people learned early on that self-worth was associated with some type of achievement. We learned that the best way to feel valued was by excelling in our work. We wouldn’t be where we are today without their encouragement.

Every day, the world we live in exploits this relationship. This correlation makes the world spin to some degree.

Western culture thrives on tying value to success. People who are successful in their chosen fields will be more productive and make more. Society insists that hard work is sacred and can lead to achievement.

Western culture is not for those who can be happy. We are required to work hard until we achieve something worthwhile. Some types of work can be more valuable than others so it is important to choose the right job to help you get by. 

Do you feel unhappy and unfulfilled?

However, not everyone who works hard reaps the benefits. To achieve success, you must meet a standard and do better than anyone else. It takes significant effort and considerable time to achieve a worthwhile triumph.

There will always be some haves and don’ts. The system of play rewards only a few people who use the system the best. These are the ones who have the greatest success. Everyone must strive harder every day, regardless of how small the reward.

We are not rewarded with the recognition we seek, but the rewards can only be a validation of our ability to continue living life. If we are dependent on the achievements of others, then our value is limited and must be matched by other people for a scarce, vital resource. Only rare achievements are as valuable as their accomplishments.

However, this is an impossible competition to win. There’ll always be more. You will never stop learning.

External validation never makes you content. You will always crave more.

I struggled to understand my worth during my trials.

Which amount of worth am I? How does it compare to other people’s worth? Is it up or down?

What is the best time to be truly worthy?

In order to answer the questions I was asked, I tried hard to give a figure to what my worth. Although a number can only be described as a tangible, self-explanatory idea, it is concrete. It was easy to tell if I had more than or less than another person.

Thus, using numbers allowed me to measure my worth and other people’s worth with ease. This helped me to find my place within the world.

I could also gauge my value by using numbers. So if I received more Likes than usual I would be happier since it means that I did something right. If I got less likes, it was a sign that I needed to make quick improvements.

Numbers are not real. They are worthless unless they have value. However, our obsessive nature can give extraordinary value to the good.

For concepts we struggle to understand, we resort to numbers as a shortcut. It seems that self-worth is one of those hard concepts.

Breaking away from society’s expectations provided me the room to realize self-worth is only as complicated as I make it.

It is possible to have self-worth in its own right, even if it does not need to be conditional. In fact, it exists Get it now without exception.

You cannot assign value to your worth. Simply put, it is. 

Because you are still alive, it is a good thing that you exist.

All people are the same when they enter the world, and all of us leave it the same. While our lives might differ in their content and value, they are all the same. There is no separation at the fundamental level.

None of us are born with a low worth. You don’t have to go on a long journey in order to increase your worth. No matter how life unfolds, our worth is constant.

The work we do does not define our worth. The world will benefit regardless of how you choose to share your talents and skills. Even if only you believe in the worth and value of what you do,

Although society might try to influence our views and feelings, they are not required to. Although it can be difficult to overcome ingrained opinions about how we should behave, this is worth fighting.

It does not matter how you measure value, and it doesn’t change.

All of us are enough right now.

Although there are many different ways we can compare ourselves with others, it’s important that we recognize the similarities and celebrate our humanity.

How can we continue moving forward, knowing we cannot increase or decrease our value?

There are many options. You can live your life fully. You can also be part of something larger than you, without ever feeling like you are small.

You don’t have to wait for other people to show you that they are worthy. It is more productive and fulfilling to be yourself. 

After trying unsuccessfully to make myself successful for the last several years, it was clear that I no longer felt fulfilled. I realized that I could not be happy until I was widely respected.

Thinking was my default mode of living. Instead of enjoying what I had, I tried to get the most out of every moment. Instead of allowing myself to flourish, I conformed and did what others wanted.

My real self felt suffocated. It was like getting stabbed in your chest to receive even the most simple criticism. It was because I no longer felt like I was worthy to be loved that I became more isolated from other people.

However, I am worthy to be myself, to fill space and to make a contribution to the world. And you do too.  

Being able to accept that your actions do not change you, allows you freedom of how you wish to live.

Being able to see your worth and feel connected with those around you allows you to empathize, connect, and help them on their path through life.

This knowledge will allow you to share your true joy.

It is possible to pursue the things you truly love, rather than what you believe you must do. To be who you desire to be, work at your own pace. It is possible to be present and not let praise or disapproval define your worth.

While many will disagree with you, you are able to live in peace and not have to fight for your worth. It is still difficult for me to ignore the critics and my own inner doubts about what I can offer.

To discover more about yourself and your intrinsic worth, we must let go of the limiting beliefs that have shaped our lives. They will not disappear completely but it is possible to make every day a conscious effort to drown them out.

You won’t see a change in your life immediately if you discover your worth. However, it will improve little by little as you keep your discoveries alive. There will always be bumps in the road, as is typical with every transition. When I least expect them, doubts still creep into my mind.

You will find that you are more open to sharing your thoughts and feelings with people, and you’ll be more able to challenge the odds. You will find fulfillment in being one with all of the Universe, instead of striving for improvement and achievement.

Your services will be completely free.

About Joey Knofczynski

Joey Knofczynski, a South Dakota fiscal analyst who loves to write and help others. He does not specialize in coaching or blogging but hopes that sharing his experiences can provide support to others on their journey through life.

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Tiny Buddha’s first post, Why I stopped measuring my self-worth and trying to prove myself was entitled “Why I Stopped Measuring Self-Worth”

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