In any society around the world, there exists a hierarchy of some shape and form which people use to measure the worth of themselves and of others. The Aztecs “Warrior Class” had a hierarchy of warrior prestige, where a man’s worth was based on how many enemies he had killed. Western society has experienced the transition from traditional family values (related to Christian values) to capitalistic values, where money plays a large role in the idea of success and personal worth.
Of course, other people measure their worth with what they can build with their hands, how far they have traveled, how many different experiences they have had in life and many other ways. There isn’t just one way of viewing success and value.
A lot of us don’t even realize what method of measurement we use to determine our own self-worth, so it is important to consciously consider how and why we value ourselves in a certain way. Many people fall into the trap of using an unrealistic “ruler” to determine their self-worth, resulting in them undervaluing themselves and viewing themselves as useless.
I’ve experienced this mistake personally, but once you develop a firm understanding of how to measure your value, you suddenly see how awesome a person you are.
How using the wrong ruler gives an inaccurate answer
You wouldn’t try to describe distances using liters since the two are rather irrelevant from each other, and that seems like common sense doesn’t it? So why would someone measure the value of an artist by the clothes that they wear? It offers no relevant information about if their art is good or not. Even looking at the amount of money that a musician makes from their music can be misleading as it can be unrelated to their musical skill. Many musical virtuosos, masters of their instruments, go unheard while shit-tit brats like Justin Bieber become “successful”, not because he’s a good musician but because he was surrounded by businessmen and managers.
I write this article because I’ve noticed many people view themselves and others in a bad light, resulting in them missing the beauty that themselves and many other people hold. The world is already a daunting place so it seems important for us to at least notice how awesome we are.
You see a homeless man in the street. He’s very dirty, has no money, no job and no home. Time and time again people will walk past him, even avoid him because just by looking at him we can all see he has no economic value in a capitalistic society. I’ve heard friends of mine say “he has no sense of personal hygiene” as they walk past, completely misunderstanding the fact that he has NO MONEY for such things and most shops won’t let him use their bathrooms to clean up. He didn’t have any economic value, but one day I stopped and talked with him.
He had invested everything he had in his family, and when his wife left him broke and homeless he had no choice but to live on the street. He still went to watch his son’s rugby games. Any money he received from strangers he would share with other homeless people. He was even in the army for a number of years. This man was valuable as a loyal, passionate, disciplined and caring man but unfortunately he was stuck at the bottom of society because no one knew enough about his true value to want to help.
While the concept of money is useful for trading in inanimate, material objects, it is not so accurate in defining the worth of something as abstract as a person. How much money is love worth? How much dough does loyalty cost? It’s like asking how many liters are in a kilometer. It’s important to remember that people are worth so much more than how much money they do or don’t make.
Why measuring yourself against others won’t help you
Many times I’ve heard my friends parents say something along the lines of “a lot of your friends are doing well and becoming successful, why aren’t you too?”
Even my girlfriend occasionally mentions how her classmates from university have all gone into their dream jobs while she struggles to find a job that won’t be a rip-off.
The problem here is that you’re made to think as if you’ve made a huge mistake, that there is something lacking in you that these other people possess, that with hard work you are 100% guaranteed to make it. The reality is that your friends and those people you went to school with are in a completely different environment to you, even if they have the same degree. Some people are presented with good opportunities while others work their butts off only to feel that they aren’t making progress. It’s kind of like winning the lottery because not everyone can win at it.
Every single person on this planet is different, so the only reliable person you can compare yourself with is yourself. Have you improved on who you were yesterday? Are you personally stronger? More understanding or empathetic? If your friends and classmates are becoming successful in their careers then good for them, just keep in mind that it changes nothing of your own personal value.
We can look at others as role models and learn from their mistakes and successes, but to infer that there’s something wrong with you because you don’t have what they have is incorrect. Just choose a direction to move in, go that way and track your progress by looking at how far YOU have come, not how far someone else on a different track has traveled.
Click here for part II