This is another personal post. It won’t get too heavy on the personal, but it’s coming from a very personal place so bear with me.
I have a full-time job and I’m not always the happiest camper. That is all I’m going to say about my job. I would hate for anyone to ever find that I wrote the sordid details of my unhappiness on the interweb. But having shared that one simple statement, I can share with you the following-my unhappiness has found me in the situations below:
–weight gain of almost 15lbs. Yes, I am to blame for not exercising and indulging in emotional eating, but when I’m not motivated, everything in my life suffers.
–overspending. Have you heard that when people gain weight, they have a tendency to spend more? There is documentation that this is in fact true. I have overspent in my past. I don’t want anyone to confuse this with me shopping. In fact, my shopping for personal items stopped, but my spending in seeing doctors and eating out increased. As you can see-therapy, acupuncture and eating meals have pushed me over the edge.
–lack of motivation. This one you may be scratching your head about, but it’s true. I’ve felt unhappy with my current status of employment on many occasions that I’ve been left feeling unmotivated. Unmotivated to do basic things like laundry or cooking for myself. There was even a month where I didn’t touch a single thing of stationery. I thought about stationery, but instead I found myself sitting on the couch watching repeat episodes of Man vs. Food on the Travel Channel. Talk about unhealthy. I’d have to switch off the show when I got really grossed out by what he was eating.
–low self value. I’ve had low points before, but they have never been as bad as this period. This was hands down the worst period of low-confidence and self-doubt that I’ve experienced ever (high school not included) and it has left me in tears and frustrated in ways I can’t properly express in this article.
Those are the big ones. They’re the ones that have me motivated. All of a sudden my self-value that was no where to be found, is shining through and it has proven to be the swift kick-in-the-butt that I’ve needed.
You may be wondering why I’m divulging so much information to you, but I think every individual needs to understand and explore the concept of self-value.
I’ve learned that for me self-value affects every aspect of my life-romance and social, health, finances and mental areas. While I’ve engaged socially almost as if nothing were wrong, I’ve also gone to bed early, drank too much, and even not wanted to get out of bed. My day-to-day existence (a 9-to-5 job, not to be confused with a career) has led me to unsettling planes of gray that has only led me to the four points above. Needless to say this did not make for a happy Sara. And an unhappy Sara can only go so far. Meaning that I was left feeling stranded- almost treading water and hating every exhausting minute of it.
The days that led to the aforementioned kick-in-the-butt played out over the course of two days. The first was two Fridays ago, June 17th, as I relabeled every piece of product I made for Celebrate Brooklyn!. I had made a mistake in my initial round of labeling and took the time on Friday to rewrite and relabel every piece. It was tiring, but as I sat there removing old labels and sticking new ones with a price increases, I knew I was in uncharted waters of gauging my self-value. The second key day was in the same week, Wednesday, June 15th, when I learned of my bosses opinion on my value.
Before I get further into this, what the labeling action forced me to realize is this-when I create a product, I infuse the product with every fiber of my being. Every minute that I’m a perfectionist goes into each piece I create. From the very beginning stages of the creative process, I throw myself in completely to a project. Not only that, but I go out of my way to find inspiration, paper, products and anything else for that matter that will make the project be the best thing ever. I make a product and then remake it better. I don’t stop until it meets the standard of Sara. I realize this is a luxury in the handmade, small business owner world, but I think the most successful businesses are the ones that allow that much focus and pride to be shown in their work. Where they don’t allow greed and speed to cloud efficiency and quality.
Which is why when my boss denied me a salary increase reflective of my increased work load, I realized, “hey, you wouldn’t let someone talk you down price for an order, why should you let this person, your “boss”, tell you your time, energy and work isn’t worth more money?” This is the most important reason why those labels got a little extra boost and that’s why this posting was written. The rest of this post isn’t about money, it is about everything else that goes into self-value, but it is important that you readers know the catalyst of all of this revolves around money and the concept of money.
As I’ve considered those two days, I’ve acknowledged something about myself – at 30-years-old, I am still suffering from teacher’s pet syndrome. I don’t know if that’s an actual syndrome or not, but when I was a kid, I wanted validation from authority figures. I didn’t care an ounce about my peers and that is still the case now. It was the “leaders” that I wanted recognition from. Mostly my teachers, after all I spent most of my day with them. As I got active in extracurricular activities, I found myself in various top positions of Student Council. I clearly wanted to be a leader. Now, I can see how those needs and roles led me to this point.
As an individual, I am a natural flirt and can be quite charming (unless I am unhappy and then I’m the complete opposite) which means that it is rather easy for me to be liked by people and to fall into the teacher’s pet persona. I don’t say this in a full-of-myself way either, I say it quite honestly. Sometimes people like me too much and I get bothered.
Either way, because I have suffered from this syndrome, I find that as I’ve left schooling and moved into the “working” world, I have hung on to that desire of having the “leaders”-my bosses and superiors-like me. When they haven’t, I’ve suffered from a lack of motivation. In the past, I’ve dealt with this in two ways: 1.) by finding opportunities for me to be motivated and 2.) moved away from the job. However, at my current job, I have made several attempts to move away but have not been successful and thus spiraled into the dreaded gray plane of “blah.”
Which is why on June 17th as I listened to my boss tell me that I was in fact not getting a pay increase that I felt I deserved, I reigned in my emotions, graciously thanked her and then realized that I am the idiot for not realizing sooner that what my boss thinks of me has absolutely NO matter what-so-ever. As a matter of fact, all of the “leaders” I’ve looked to for validation have absolutely meant nothing. They know how to play “the game” of office politics and that does not include me unless I choose to play the game as well. I don’t play the game well. I never have. Instead choosing to not play the game has allowed them to injure my self-value and self-worth. Every time they’ve denied me an opportunity to be myself, earn a raise, or be promoted, I’ve injured myself by having allowed the action.
But not anymore.
I am worth so much more. I mean this in the sense of individual worth. Yes, I know how much I’m worth, but why have I allowed others to tell me how much I’m worth? Or rather how much they think I’m worth? Honestly it is because I’ve been looking for a mentor to nurture me and show me the ropes, but I haven’t found it and I’m beginning to think that in the broken world that is business, I’m never going to find it. It should be noted that I’m not a defeatist nor do I like giving up on things, which is why I am instead going to make it. I’m going to pursue being my own best mentor. My first step is deciding to not look back, unless it’s in sharing the story of how I changed how I value myself from how I wanted others to provide that value for me.
It doesn’t need to be said, but for the first time, I feel truly liberated! Mostly, I feel liberated from the strapping that is my current job, but I also feel completely more involved and committed in moving toward my dream of S2 Stationery and Design. Yes, I have already been moving and this year has seen some great progress, but when you’re unmotivated (see the four points above), things have a way of passing you by if you’re not paying attention.
Which leads me to the creation of my next great plan for 2011/2012. It’s stellar and I’m oh, so, excited about it, but I want to cross all my t’s and dot my i’s before spreading the news.
I think over all what this made me realize is that I am quiet pleased with who I am and what I’ve learned but I am ready to and in need to shake things up a bit. The reality is I’ve had an amazing existence and 30 is proving to be an amazing age. Which leaves me to bask in the pleasure of knowing what I think of myself and following it in the directions and paths that it will inevitably leave me. This includes increasing prices on every sticker for product, not being afraid to demand things, and throwing myself out to the world with arms wide open and childlike abandon. That’s what my gypsy self would want anyway.