On personal value

February 6, 2018

This might be dangerous to my prospects, but it’s important.

I’ve struggled more with my self-worth in the last two years than ever before. A job I had high hopes for didn’t work out at all; 18 months of unemployment and counting followed. A snapshot of my life last year would show a flurry of job applications, then weeks or months of despondency from being ignored and rejected, combined with the stress of bills continuing to pile up and the guilt every time I dared to do something that wasn’t job search-related.

Then, at the end of the year, to quote a song, my solid ground turned to quicksand; and I was handed even more reasons to doubt my value.

I’m going to skip the history lesson on Vincent Van Gogh and his brother Theo, but you might want to read a bit on their relationship. They wrote a lot of letters to each other. In one dated around January 25, 1885, Vincent wrote:

If I make better work later, I still won’t work otherwise than now; I mean it will be the same apple only riper — I myself won’t turn from what I’ve thought from the start. And this is why I say for my part, if I’m no good now, I won’t be any good later either — but if later, then now too. For wheat is wheat, even if it looks like grass at first to townsfolk — and the other way round too.

Somehow, that got morphed into the following apocryphal quote:

If I’m worth anything later, I’m worth something now; for wheat is wheat, even if people think it is a grass in the beginning.

Who knows how that happened. And yet, it’s the popular version of the quote that got me last night.

In both my professional life and my personal life, both the original and the apocryphal apply. I refuse to believe I’m worthless anymore just because I’m struggling; and I refuse to let other people make me feel that way anymore. This won’t last forever; I will grow; but my inherent value as a human is as high as anyone else’s.