Radvent 2012 2: Self-worth

“My value is greater than my body.”
~ Princess Lasertron

On the heels of Artful Giving weekend, where I was praying people would like and purchase my new Maraviglia pendants, Princess Lasertron posted a Radvent about Self-worth.

This post is flashing me back to last year’s Radvent on Style and Wrapping. And like last year, my gut response to her post surprises me.

1. Consider the origins of your self-worth.
My primary origin of self-worth is the nuclear family, which builds its self-worth on generations past. This year I’ve re-assessed those relationships, and it has been quite a process to determine who is “allowed” to hold power and who is not.

Self-worth was measured in being “good”: getting A and B-equivalent grades, not doing drugs, being home by curfew, and doing as I was told. Body image was also quite prevalent: “You would be so pretty if you lost weight in a certain area of your body.” I am learning to deconstruct that, but it isn’t easy.

Another part I am struggling with this year due to not having a 9-to-5 schedule is the “worth” of productivity. In my old job, putting in a lot of hours was a badge of honor: “look at me, slaving away for 12- to 16-hour days.” Yet I know a lot of hours in a cubicle were UN-productive. On global projects I spent 7 a.m. to noon being productive, then waiting around until the next time zone woke up around 8 to 9 p.m. Not to mention all the office chit-chat, hour-long meetings and other corporate rituals taking away from “real work”.

Yet I still have a hard time feeling worthy of honoring my circadian rhythm. Most pieces of art I’ve created are done between 1 p.m. and 11 p.m. Still, I feel guilty for not being “up” at 9 or 10 a.m. the next day, and not having a “normal” work day. Princess Lasertron is very helpful in sharing her pattern, but I realize that in spite of my need to be unique and a solopreneur, conformity is a measure of my self-worth.

“I love the beauty in all people
and wish for them to accept their worth.”

~ Princess Lasertron

2. Consider a compliment you received recently. Did you believe it?

Like Princess Lasertron, I’ve learned to pick outfits I feel good about, rather than what I “should” wear. I’ve loaded up on sweater dresses for the winter, because the muffin top my pants generate will make me want to crawl back under the covers. When I wear an outfit I am happy in, I get more compliments, and I do believe them because I am happy myself.

But I also know I and many others haven’t been trained to accept compliments graciously. “Oh, it’s just something I threw on,” “It’s only from Target” (like a brand/boutique name would make it look better), “This outfit is so old,” and “Well it’s what fit this morning” really are scripts to downplay our inner beauty, which also diminishes the generous comment you’ve just been gifted with.

When I feel nudged to tell a total stranger on the street that their outfit flatters them, I do so. Their responding smile makes my day as much as theirs. A simple “Thanks!” is plenty of acknowledgement. So don’t make excuses for being beautiful!

“Nobody has to share a kind word.
That people do say kind things is marvelous to me,
and it inspires me to see others opening up to offer such positivity
expecting nothing in return.”

~Princess Lasertron

3. Watch the people around you today at work, or on a walk in your neighborhood, or while shopping for gifts, whatever you’re doing in you routine.

When I look at others, I see their generosity of spirit, the success they have achieved, their fantastic talent or skills, the wisdom in their thoughts and actions, their radiant smile, the bright color or pattern of their outfit, their cute shoes, their fabulous hairstyle, their creativity with their wardrobe.

Yet when I get ready to make a first impression somewhere, I look at flaws flaws flaws in the mirror. Strictly the body parts. Forget the smile I get complimented on a lot, forget my eyes, my dentists’ envy teeth, forget my brains, forget my skills, forget my talents and achievements.

As I mentioned in the Style Radvent, I need to remember that others might admire exactly the things I negate. Some people would love to be shorter, and envy the curves I happen to have. Health is paramount, and all beauty consciousness fades when something isn’t working right.

“Think about the subjectivity of beauty.
Recognize how profoundly individualistic
and subjective beauty really is,

and appreciate the unique-self worth of those around you.”
~Princess Lasertron

4. Realize you affect others.

I am one of the smallest in my family, but forget that genes do predispose one to a certain look and style. I am learning to wear what feels good, rather than what the fashion magazines tell you you should fit into.

An empowering moment a few years ago happened when I shopped for a nice dress to wear to a wedding. The sales person took a peek in my dressing room and said: “You need to wear Spanx with that.” I told her: “No, I don’t need to buy this particular dress.” I refuse to girdle myself into discomfort for the sake of looking a size smaller.

Slowly I am re-training myself that my belly “is allowed” to be round in spite of the fact that I’ve never been pregnant. I learned long ago that I would never have a six-pack, and I’m stopping the negative self-talk implying I would prettier with washboard abs. Being a size 10 is OK. I was a size 8 once (after being size 12 to 14 for many years), but maintaining that is un-natural/un-realistic for me. So like Kelly Rae Roberts, I pledge to be realistic in 2013 and remove the pieces I no longer fit into, that start those bad movies in my head, and to honor the 3-decades-and-beyond healthy body I have been gifted with.

“Know, first, who you are;
and then adorn yourself accordingly.”
~ Epictetus (via Princess Lasertron)

Self-worth is indeed beyond looks, beyond work, and beyond a paycheck. Character, spirit and influence matter far more, and are tools we hardly actualize because we are too busy focusing on looks, checklists and material things.

The good news is people do like my Maraviglia. You can see their out-and-about page on Facebook, and I sold Center of my Heart to a man visiting from Greece during Artful Giving.

“The truth is that we don’t need everyone to like us,
we need a few people to love us.
Because what’s better than being roundly liked is being fully known
an impossibility both professionally and personally
if you’re so busy being likable that you forget to be yourself.”
~ Jessica Valenti in She Who Dies With the Most ‘Likes’ Wins?

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