I have always been a fairly non-confrontational person. I dislike awkward conversations and asking people for things. Unfortunately, that often means that I have a hard time standing up for myself because I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes or ruffle any feathers.
The older I get, the more I’ve come to accept certain things about myself, but the older I get the more I realize that I can’t go through life not asking for something solely because I don’t want to make the other person uncomfortable because, really, that just leaves me being the most uncomfortable person 90 per cent of the time.
For much of my teen years I was called mean things like a pushover or a follower or spineless. I’d like to think that wasn’t totally true, but the bottom line is that I’ve always cared about making other people happy so much more than making myself happy. The good news is that I’ve grown up quite a bit over the last 10+ years and my limits for bullshit have certainly scaled back since high school, but I still can’t seem to shake my eternal conundrum of asking for what I deserve.
Why do I still do this to myself? Because, at almost 28, I’m still not sure I know my worth.
I, like many people, have dealt with uncomfortable situations where you have to ask someone something: How much they’re paying you for a service, to give you a raise, to take time off during a bad time, to return the money that you loaned them. It’s uncomfortable and weird, especially if you know the person well. It’s something that I always have and probably always will continue to struggle with. How do I ask nicely so that the other person doesn’t get upset or put off but in a way that also shows assertiveness because I deserve to get what I need/want.
When friends come to me with their relationship or career issues, I sit and tell them how amazing they are and they need to realize that or they’re doomed to a life of subpar jobs, salaries and boyfriends because they couldn’t see the value of themselves. I tell my friends that they need to fight for a higher salary or more time off work because they work their asses off and stay late. I tell them that they need to put their foot down when their boyfriend makes stupid demands and then isn’t willing to compromise on something with them. I tell them that they don’t need to compare themselves to others and that there’s no specific place they need to be in their lives at a specific time.
And yet, when that advice is thrown back at me, I laugh and ignore it.
I’m not like that with relationships. I’ve had countless (COUNTLESS!) conversations with my fiancé over the last almost-eight years about what I need to be happy and how much I’m willing to endure. But when it comes to money, I have a hard time quantifying my worth. If someone doesn’t quote you a price on a project, how do you ask them to give you a number? How much is too much to ask for? I’m still figuring this out. I’ve gone down the path of doing work before finding out how much I’m getting paid more times than I care to count.
As a millennial generation we’re told to hustle until they know your name. We’re in this weird paradox where we’re supposed to keep doing more, more, more and we’re left thinking it’s still not enough, but we need to ignore all that noise and just focus on the property value this constant hustle brings us.
I just wish learning my career worth were a quicker process.