Friday, August 01, 2008

Owning your self worth

There are so many ways to measure yourself.

You can get literal: the number on a scale or tape measure or the waist band of your pants.

You can check the performance metrics: how much money do you make? What did your last annual review at work say? How big is your bonus?

You can go Gordon Gecko/"greed is good" on it: what does your bank account look like? What kind of car/cell phone/television? Whose name is on the tag in your clothing?

I have, at various times in my life, used each of these yard sticks to decide how I was doing and how much further I had to go.

I'm not sure if turning 40 gave me entry to a magic portal of wisdom and clarity or if it's just a coincidence, but it's just so clear to me now that everything above this line is a bunch of crap. Seriously.

What I'm living for now is the epitaph test: what will people say about me when I'm gone? Was I generous with my time, energy, and money? Was my "say/do" ratio in balance? How many people will miss me when I'm gone? How many people's lives will have been changed for the better because I was here? Did I do something each day that scared me? Did the people that I loved know how much they meant to me? Those, my friends, are true measures of who you are, and they live on forever.

As I face my annual review here at work, it's hard for me to keep a clear line of sight to what's really important. It's easy to let your title or compensation or words written by someone who only knows a small part of who you really are dictate how you feel about yourself, but we must all fight that tendency.

Life is not all about your job. It's not about what you can buy or whether or not you fit into a societal norm. It's about loving, whether or not you get love in return. And giving, even when the only thing you can give is your time and energy. It's stopping to help the person struggling to open the door because they've got their hands full. Telling someone that they look nice just because it's a Wednesday? That's living. Staying until the very end of a losing high school football game when it's pouring cats and dogs and you can't feel your feet any more because they're so cold is living, too. (Been there, done that.)

No, there aren't any medals given out for a life well lived, but the satisfaction of knowing that you have made a difference is like a medal that you wear on the inside. And the light given off by the glow of that medal can absolutely light up the world.

2 comments:

Dad24Cats said...

There is only one true measure in life. I am not very religious or do I try to be, but every belief there is a day of reconking that you must face before the after life. That is the true measure and if you can live with yourself. Some of us it is easier than others but we all must face it sometimes.

kitty said...

I've been thinking a lot about this myself lately - I've never been one to measure myself (or anyone else) by what we have or how much it cost etc. I just tend to not measure at all

but the older I get the more important it is to me to be the best person I can be - I've always tried to be a good person - but lately that doesn't seem like enough

anyway I loved this post... it made me smile