Most of us struggle with seeing the great things that we contribute to the people around us. We get stuck in our daily routines, grinding our way through life just trying to make ends meet and we don’t notice the things that we do all the time that make a difference. It can become hard sometimes to feel motivated to do anything at all because we feel trapped in the regimented schedules that we have created for ourselves.
The reality is that to function in a society at all, there must be some sort of value that makes us worth dealing with. It is only when we have something meaningful to contribute that we are able to interact in any sort of positive way with the people in our lives. Even if you don’t make a lot of money, you have some sort of value that makes you important to someone. Our ability to be valuable to others isn’t necessarily about producing anything. Social currency is a real thing.
Men tend to focus on career, but this can be a very bad way to judge our own value. There are only so many high value jobs in the working world, and very few will rise to the level that we tend to think of as being “successful”. We tend to have a very “pie in the sky” view of what our lives should be, and the disappointment we feel when that dream world doesn’t materialize can be incredibly demoralizing if we don’t have realistic expectations.
I used to struggle with this myself. Like most men, when I was young I had this idea that I was going to have so many great things by the time I turned thirty, not realizing at the time that the people who get those things that early are the extreme exception, not the rule. My life certainly isn’t where I hoped it would be when I was just getting into my life as an adult, and sometimes it is a struggle to be satisfied with what I have.
What most men don’t realize is that we contribute a lot more than just our work. We are sons and fathers and brothers and husbands as well, and those things are far more important than how much money we make or what kind of car we drive or the house we live in. As many have said before, on the last day of our lives when we are looking back at what we spent our lives doing, we won’t be saying that we wished we made just one more dollar. We will be looking at the loved ones around us and feel grateful that we had amazing relationships to share that life with.
Women struggle in much the same way, except that their focus tends to be on self image rather than what they produce. The same idea applies to them. Focusing on our personal relationships rather than popularity or other such nonsense is a much better metric for determining your own value. The flaky friends you had when you were young won’t be there in thirty years when you need someone to give you real emotional support. It is your family and close friends who will matter in the end, not your dress size or social media friend count.
It can be difficult to look at our situations today and feel satisfied with where we are. Human beings are by nature movers, always looking ahead to the next thing we need to get done. I am certainly not satisfied with where my career has taken me, and it has spurred me to jump feet first into this blog with the small hope that I can make something valuable out of it. But along the way I need to remember that I am important in ways other than the dead end career options I’ve been given. Jobs are temporary; value lasts a lifetime.
What do you think about your own value? Can you see the good things you contribute to the world around you? Take a few minutes and make a list of the things about you that other people might find valuable, even if they seem ridiculous. As you take a moment to reflect on that list, you might find that you have far more to offer people than what the “mainstream” has decided is “valuable”.
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