The Beginning of Something Else

On June 1, 2007 I found out my husband and partner of almost two decades had been unfaithful to me since before our marriage, and had been having intercourse with prostitutes for 3 1/2 years. This is what happened next.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

How much am I worth?

Recently I had a conversation with my business partner about how much I’m worth. I was calm on the outside, but shaking on the inside, near tears even. I felt like I was being asked to defend the value of my contribution to our business.

I don’t think that was the conversation we were having, but that was the conversation I was hearing. “You’re not valuable, what you bring anybody could bring and the real value here is what I do.” That’s what I heard. And it really cut me. I’ve given a lot to this business, and have worked as a partner, making sacrifices, working long hours for low pay, working on vacations, constantly overdelivering for clients as part of our business development strategy.

We were talking about compensation, and how to split the profits from our business. But, sitting there, I realized why these conversations are so hard for me, and it’s because I have a very hard time justifying my value at all. I think in the past I had less of a struggle with it because I didn’t realize the assumptions I make about the value of my contributions. I was perfectly willing to let anyone and everyone else tell me how much I was worth.

But now that I’m learning that I can define myself and I don’t have to let others define me, I’m terrified of overvaluing myself and having someone “catch” me, and ask “do you honestly think you’re worth that much?”

I’ve seen bad employees, mostly men, fail upward. I’ve seen talentless and ignorant people succeed. What these people all have in common is that they are innately valuable. They believe they are qualified, and therefore the world falls in line.

This innate belief in my own value, my own qualification, doesn’t come naturally to me.

I think this is where action is more important than though and planning. If you put your butt in a seat and write, you’re a writer, and you’re more likely, talented or not, to get published than a brilliant writer who is not writing.

How do I move from being afraid of being discovered as a fraud to someone who does what I want because I want to, and feels confident that my interest and desire are all the qualifications I need?

And the deeper question: Now that I’m beginning to think in terms of defining myself instead of being defined by others, how do I develop confidence in my definition, and the ability to stand up for my own definition of self, so that when that moment comes and someone says to me “do you honestly think you’re worth that much, because I don’t,” I can take that in without being devastated or defensive, and stand my ground?

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