Go Where You Grow

Some say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

There have been many times in my life where I’ve really struggled with feeling like I was not progressing. The scenario would differ from case to case, but it always felt a bit like being a hamster on a motorized running wheel: exerting so much force, yet accomplishing nothing.

One of the hardest things as a young person is finding a sense of self-worth and purpose when family, education, and long-held beliefs are stripped away.

We look to mentors, bosses, professors, family members, friends, and colleagues to validate us and to see value in us. For many of us, the wind is swiftly removed from our sails as those we look up to, invalidate us and write us off as not being worth the risk or the time.

For years after earning my bachelor’s degree, I struggled with the tension between what my school told me I was worth and what the jobs I worked paid me.

As an engineering student who failed out and had to re-tool halfway through his college career, it was demoralizing to have that security of direction stripped away.

I allowed my bosses to critically affect how I viewed myself. I bought into the lie that as a young person, my time, my sanity, and my value as a person were worth less than the mandates of the job.

Overtime was a given, and caring for oneself was simply not the way to building a successful career.

Do better.

Be better.

Sacrifice everything.

The business comes first.

I just finished a fantastic book called East of Eden by John Steinbeck. In the book, a major theme is that of the importance of each individual’s choice.

A possible interpretation of the story is that, no one is fated to be good or evil but that instead, each person may choose the path that they traverse.

Oftentimes we believe that we must stick with something or that we must earn the approval of a certain authority figure.

We agonize as time and time again we are trampled and simply not appreciated for the work we put in and the value we bring. Living and dying for affirmation and validation, we hold onto a romanticized notion of what it would be like to finally be recognized and valued.

All the while… we know that the day will never come when we will be seen for more than the box we have been placed into.

There is a story of a boy who is tasked by his dying grandfather to ask the local pawn shop how much it would buy an old watch for. The pawnshop owner offers a paltry amount of five dollars or so.

The grandfather then asks the boy to ask the local store how much they would buy it for, and that store also proceeds to quote a price of not much more than ten dollars.

Lastly, the grandfather asks the boy to take it to the watch museum where the museum offers the boy something around a million dollars because the watch is an antique.

The grandfather tells the boy that value is in the eyes of the beholder and that it is important to go only where his intrinsic value is appreciated.

Some will read this and will insist that laziness or some other character flaw is the downfall of our generation. They might say that hard work is the key to being recognized and that believing that we are unique and have giftings in different areas is a stupid and ineffective way of falsely building the self-esteem of a soft generation that can’t handle the pressure of working hard and striving for greatness.

Indeed, hard work and diligence are critical to success and growth. However, I would argue against the labels that the older generations place on our shoulders.

We went to school even when the threat of imminent death at the end of a gun was a very real possibility.

We watched our families crumble as our parents’ years-long stifling of their emotions manifested in mid-life crises, divorces, and ultimately fractured families.

We traversed a whole new battlefield of online bullying and complete removal of privacy as we chose to stay connected and relevant on social media.

There are so many trials that we face that generations before us did not experience in the same quantities or magnitudes.

Indeed, we are not weak.

You are not weak.

This post is for the discouraged and the passed over.

Those of us who were more than qualified and worked our asses off, yet never seemed to earn the favor of those in power.

You have value, and just because your boss or supervisor doesn’t see it or acknowledge it, doesn’t mean that you don’t.

Sometimes when we are pushed down and ignored for too long, we buy into the lie that we have nothing to offer and that we truly have no value.

When this happens we oftentimes become paralyzed and we wait for change to magically occur as we repeat the same motions that have done nothing for us in the past.

And we wait.

And wait.

The truth of the matter is that not everyone is capable of appreciating what we uniquely bring to the table. That being said, many will not appreciate us.

Significant others, family members, bosses, and friends will take us for granted and completely miss all that we are capable of.

And that is okay.

Life is far too short to try and earn the affection and approval of those who simply won’t see what is right in front of them.

Love yourself enough to say, “Enough of this bullshit. I’ll take my talents elsewhere and go where I grow.”

I worked at places prior where I was told that I was stupid, that I was too emotional, and that I was the problem that caused dysfunctionality within the team.

I spent years growing, adapting, and trying to meet the ever-moving standards that my bosses would place upon me, but I was never enough.

It was the scariest and hardest thing for me to take a step of faith and leave.

Now I work at a place where the CEO constantly praises my ability to communicate, my organizational skills, and my personality.

Not much has changed about me, and yet my bosses see the value that was always there and they go a step further as they validate and affirm it.

They constructively coach me and help me to grow, but they make sure that I know how valuable I am to them verbally and otherwise.

Deciding to journey into the unknown can be so terrifying, but remember that you are human and that you can only give so much. If you are giving your all and it still isn’t enough to appease those who you are working for, it isn’t worth dying a little bit every day to fight a battle that can’t really ever be won.

You are worth more than you know.

If the people you work for make you feel like they don’t need or value you the opposite is in fact the truth: You don’t need them.

Go where you are appreciated for who you are.