I think Instagram is more like us than we realize. We like to put the best version of ourselves out there because we want others to like us and accept us. I think there is a lot of hurt in the world because of that…because of our tendency to concern ourselves SO much with what others think. So many people, they want to filter what others see, and we become less authentic when we do that. We have this fear that others won’t like the real version of ourselves, so in certain circles we adjust who we are to fit in.
Now, this isn’t me casting judgment on you or anyone else. It’s more of a, “Trust me, I’ve been there.”
Growing up I didn’t put a lot of thought into self-worth until I was around 12 years old. Can you remember when it may have started for you? What made you feel all of a sudden or maybe crept in over time, that doubt that maybe you weren’t good enough? Looking back, it’s interesting to see the subtle things that slowly brought me to being self-conscious and comparing myself to others.
Comparison. Let’s just say it. IT’S NOT GOOD. To spend any time thinking you would be better if you owned something your friend owns, or looked like that celebrity you think is good looking, or had has much money as so and so… and thinking that will make you happy? It’s a waste of time for your beautiful heart. Not because setting goals in life is pointless, but because when you think someone has it better because they have the thing you want, or look the way you wish, you don’t realize how much you’re putting yourself down by doing that. It’s one thing to set a goal for yourself, it’s another to set it because of someone else.
Comparison isn’t new. The various forums like Instagram, Snapchat… these outside things that toy with our insecurities may be new but creating a culture that has girls comparing themselves from one person to another because they’re told what is cool, fashionable, worth their time and money - that’s not new at all. It continues to happen because there are still SO many of us who believe these things we’re being told to change in order to be happy, pretty or accepted; which seriously… breaks my heart.
Why does knowing our worth matter so much?
We are so impressionable when we don’t know our worth. When we don’t know who we are, or what we’re supposed to be, we look at other people who are in the exact same boat as us and for some reason think that’s a good place to figure ourselves out. Meanwhile those other people are also trying to figure themselves out and looking at OTHER people to do the same thing. We pick out the things we value or desire, and the things that they seem to be doing better than us in and we try to establish ourselves their way, but trying to make it our way, and it just doesn’t work. It won’t work.
When we don’t know our worth, we are vulnerable to the wrong things. We become susceptible to wrong things, things that can hurt us, and even though we feel on some level that we need something stable to build ourselves on, we so often direct that need to wrong places or people.
When we don’t know our worth, we settle for whatever comes our way. We settle for friends who use us for money or rides or food or attention, we settle for a life style that seems to garner popularity because if you have lots of people around you it must mean you’re well liked, we settle for boys who treat us like nothing because we think that’s what we deserve.
One of my all-time favorite books, that’s also a movie, is the “Perks of Being a Wallflower”. While there are SO many quotable moments, one that definitely stood out and maybe you might know it is:
“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
I think we each have SOMETHING we accept, or that we currently do, based on how we see ourselves:
We accept the relationship, we think we deserve.
We accept the criticism, we think we deserve.
We accept the abuse, we think we deserve.
It doesn’t even have to be something external. The thoughts that we have and the negativity we can have about ourselves, we accept it with ease sometimes.
Why?? Because we believe we are worth LESS than we are. Because we have set some standard in our minds based on the opinions of people we know (AND people we don’t) of what success is, or what beauty is and we compare ourselves to where we’re at and where others are at, or how we look verses how others look, and we get real low, real fast and with it…our self worth depletes.
And sometimes it makes us try and control some other area of our life because we have a firmer grip on it and think, “Well, I’m not this or that but I AM really good at this thing. I’m going to exert my energy into THIS instead.” And you know what, to a degree, that can be okay - but not when we start to build our worth on THAT thing, either.
In all honesty, I found in my life, that people - let you down. Things - they don’t make you whole, they don’t give you a lasting happiness… But God does.
By the time I was 14 years old, I had suffered from an eating disorder, I was battling major depression and had PDD (persistent depressive disorder), was being emotionally and financially exploited by my family, had been previously and was currently being sexually abused and had tried to commit suicide multiple times.
14 years, and zero self worth.
Nothing I tried to turn to or distract myself with made me feel any better. Years went by and ONLY by the grace of God I was able to get through those things. It was in Him that I finally found my worth.
And to this day, my faith in God is the source of my worth. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Know this, whether you believe in God or not - you absolutely have worth. Whether you believe in yourself or not - you absolutely have worth. Each of us - we’re special, we are designed with purpose, we were created for love and to be loved, and that includes love from ourselves.
We aren’t identical to one another because we aren’t supposed to be. The things don’t like about yourself are the things other people LOVE about you - I guarantee it. For instance, I am not a huge fan of my smile, in part because I used to have two chipped teeth and I was self-conscious about that, and because when I smile my left eye slightly closes. But one of my best friends has said it’s one of the things they love most about me, because they don’t see the things I have examined and picked apart. They see the joy, they see the expression of happiness which is an expression of who I am.
For you? Maybe it’s your freckles, your shoulders, your stomach you cover up, the emotional struggle you’re in, or the scars you’re trying to hide. Maybe it’s the things you have labelled about yourself as not good enough, not pretty enough, not__________ whatever that blank is to you, all add up and contribute to the lack of worth you see yourself as - and it’s not even true.
Each of us has a specific role in this world to fill. No one else can fill it but you. Are you trying to tell me that doesn’t matter? You’re trying to tell yourself you’re irrelevant, you’re not worthy of love, or happiness? NOT. AT. ALL.
You have the likes that you have, the laugh you have, the fashion sense you have, the taste buds you have, the voice that you have, the talents you have, the passions you have because they make up YOU. Not the girl beside you, not the person you look up to or the person you compare yourself to. You aren’t supposed to be anyone other than you - and YOU are definitely worth the time it takes to share all of this with you in hopes you can truly believe that.
If a one-of-a-kind diamond or painting is worth millions of dollars and all it is is a rock or a piece of canvas with some paint on it, how could WE ever feel like we’re worth less than that? Us, who are breathing, living, beautiful, who can build and dream, create and sing and become SO MUCH more than something made with human hands. YOU are made by the hands that formed the entire Universe. YOU are a masterpiece, sewn in with love and painted with every beautiful colour He owns.
YOU are worthy to be loved by those who see your worth - by those who build you up, not tear you down, who bring out the best in you, not the worst. YOU are worthy to be loved by YOURSELF because your uniqueness, your quirks, they make you priceless because you can’t be duplicated.
What so often constitutes something as valuable is its’ rarity, its’ uncommonness, the inability to find anything else like it - and that’s exactly us. That’s exactly YOU.
So, if not right now as you read this, but sometime, I hope very VERY soon, that you know how much you’re worth. How irreplaceable and valuable you are. How worthy it is to simply be in the presence of something so wonderful as you.
Standing here with you,
Sam is one of our favourite people. She is an authentic speaker, writer, leader and friend. In her daytime, she can be found managing the Food for Families program at CityReach Care Society. By night, she is a youth and young adult leader and worship leader - and an event planner extraordinaire. She has hair that changes colour as often as the seasons pass, but her heart stays as true as gold. You can follow her on Instagram @samstan_ley