Do I Have Value?

“Me” © Meredith Truax

My sense of self-worth is tied to my creative output and that isn’t healthy. Social media doesn’t make this toxic identity connection any better. There are visible metrics tied to every thing that I share, including this piece you’re reading now, which let me know just how unimportant and lackluster I am. The metrics are nonsense and easily gamed but execs still use them to determine whether you receive a check, so I still definitely do suck. I don’t know of another way to see myself and I can’t trace back where I learned to see myself this way.

My biggest fear is wasting my life because I’m pretty certain we don’t get a second chance at it. I can’t just live and die—my father did and it’s lame AF (I want to clarify that it wasn’t his choice). I want to leave pieces of me behind that communicates to the kids that life sucks, but we can still do cool shit while we’re living it. I’m not sure that I see the value in a “life well-lived” without monuments left behind to showcase that the life was in fact lived well. I only know how to do that by making pictures and telling stories— I’m just not that good at anything else.

I agonize over the work so obsessively that it never gets completed. “It can never be as great as it needs to be,” I whisper to myself while my brain formulates excuses for why I’m not worthy. “You’re rusty….You haven’t shot like that in a long time… You don’t have a strong enough team…” etcetera, etc. These things may or may not be true but they’re irrelevant. The work won’t ever be as good as it needs to be, to me, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good enough for someone else. It doesn’t mean that it can be impactful or moving or simply cool to someone on the outside. I can’t impact my community or the world with vaporware. I have to kill the cynic that lives between my ears and share myself with the world.

The rejection you fear the world will welcome you with is imagined.