SELF-WORTH Before What You Think You’re Worth

Fearless Girl by Federica Valabrega

I want everything you’re about to read to become fuel for you to prevail against degrading systems operating in the world today. More importantly, I want everything on this page to compel you to seek truths within the context of your own life.

We know that throughout human history females are undervalued and underpaid due to no superfluous explanations about humanity, other than the fact that today for every 10 articles you read about popular feminism, you’ll find equal or more articles about popular misogynism. These popularity-driven tides break us further away from real progress when we fail to look through the Gaussian-blurred surface that hides the distorted views beneath.

When we think of character traits and qualities we admire, as we see saliently emanating from the Fearless Girl — The exuberance of worth. The bravery and fearlessness which give rise to a sense of worth, gleaming with purpose and valor, has a shadow content that could be misused to enable the exact opposite — Intense light creates intense shadow — We can all be fooled, more often by ourselves than we realize, into feeling empowered to feel victimized. What a dichotomized pickle.

There’s nothing victimizing about being fearless. But feeling victimized engenders more of the same inability to act fearlessly.

There’s no catch-all solution to something as insidious as a victim mindset that forever seeks to be cradled by external justice.

Before I get too much further from what compelled me to say what I’m about to say, I want to make a firm and forthright statement that this is not a direct response nor is this any endorsement from/to State Street or its current Gender Pay Dispute — I’m gainfully employed by State Street, a fresh hire 4-months ago. Everything that follows is of my individual opinion. For those who are unaware of the connection: State Street is the financial firm behind the Fearless Girl statue, facing the Charging Bull as a symbol supporting gender equality.

I’m holding a neutral stance as a member of the female species, but I’m stepping forth as a member of the human species to say, we can miss the opportunity to manifest our self-worth when we falter in the face of assigned values during salary negotiations — The two are completely interrelated; how we’ve been trained to project our self-worth, is how the outside world will rise to expect our worth.

The news about the $5 million settlement to the discrimination case, twisted the throbbing thorn that’s been in my side. Leveraging the full effect of my self-expression and my personal values, I will stay clear of making any hollow comments about the State Street dispute — I simply want to establish a truth that transcends beyond dollars and cents — It has something to do with our ability to discern our cultural worthiness. And we won’t know what that is, unless we work through the fear of looking deeply within.

What does it mean to be fearless?

Having just attended the absolutely awe-inspiring 2017 Pennsylvania Conference for Women, where highly esteemed Michelle Obama, Brené Brown, Carla Harris and a whole roster of powerful and inspirational women clad in their own hard-earned brimming virtues, stood in front of 12,000 women (and a handful of equally fearless men). I was given the opportunity by State Street to attend this annual conference, encouraged by my amazing team at Project Pharos.

I thought it would be suiting to use an adage which resounded strongly at the event: To be a fearless female, is to make sure to get yourself a seat at the table, and to have a voice at your seat, then to make sure no one drowns out your voice or take away your seat. It is about doing what it takes to obtain the optimal environment in which one can thrive, against all odds.

Have you always done what it takes to present what “thriving” means to you?

Letting fear run the course of our lives and we become immobilized and prematurely arrested in our own development. Avoiding it completely and we risk being an ignorant fool. Transcending fear requires honest contemplation. Tim Ferriss has talked about fear-setting as being more important than goal-setting.

You can’t beat what you fear to know.

Fear could prevent you from going for the job you want (and subjectively deserve).

Fear could prevent you from asking for the salary you want (and subjectively deserve).

Consequently, fear could lead you into accepting a subpar job and salary (and intersubjectively agree to those terms).

Numerous jobs and perhaps even more career changes later, we could unknowingly habituate ourselves into sidestepping the question we should be asking ourselves way before we send out that job application — How much is my self-worth worth?

You’re the sum of your fearless representation of yourself.

The answer lies in your ability to present the whole of your life experiences, fearlessly. It doesn’t matter if the job calls for it or not; we’re not robots and we don’t only bring into our job functions what we’ve indicated on our CV’s, so every single aspect of ourselves is an asset. Your mannerism, your personality, your ability to articulate, telegraph and transmit your own worth, are all being considered in the game of salary negotiations.

You’re not the jobs you’ve worked at, titles you’ve held, nor the W2’s you’ve collected over the years. You are the embodiment of all the habits, skills, and dispositions that you possess due to your life experiences.

That is your cultural capital. Your cultural capital lends to your holistic self-worth. When your cultural capital is maladaptive to the moving landscape of the larger world/workplace, it can limit your social mobility, your income, your wealth, and most importantly, your ability to thrive.

Every unskillful salary negotiations you’ve ever had, and more defeating … every salary negotiation you should have had but never did, add up the detriments and skews your self-worth. The only way to get better at it, is to expose yourself to it, and train in it to appreciate it.

If you fear salary negotiations, then it’s likely that you’ll accept what’s put on the table without question. There, we’re back at the table conversation — Have a seat, and a voice, and continue to be vocal once you’ve been invited to the table.

It’s irrational to expect an offer to come to us meeting us at the eye of our expectations. This is not to rule out that it doesn’t happen — I have been offered institutionalized economic worth that matched the worth of my self-worth from the get-go and more often than not, it required negotiations.

We should expect our training in negotiations for our own worth to set the precedence of offers to come.

No one is naturally a high-earner or a low-earner, and no single company can be a combinatorial judge that dictates the worth or lack thereof in an employee. Companies are organizations made of individual persons; people come with their biases and their own cultural capital, and the manifestation of a company-wide sum of culture capital can only be sustained when it’s met with continuous agreement/opt-in.

If you’ve agreed to a subpar “worth” of yourself and signed on it, the thorn in my side says that you’re equally responsible as the person who extended the subpar offer to you.

And by opting into that assigned worth, you’ve set a new bar for your cultural capital. All your life goals, dreams, aspirations that follow will be based on that value. It becomes ingrained in your conversations that might or might not even entail economic aspects of worth. It will proliferate in all extents of how you carry yourself, your demeanor, and whether you’ll want to sit at a particular table — That becomes your new position within the social order in both work and in life.

The seed that thrives not.

What kind of mindset seed is planted when you accept a subpar job or a subpar salary? It’s a fearful seed. It grows with a slow harboring of a benign lackluster mood to wake up to in the morning. Its insidious growth then extends to the manifestation of a lackluster dynamic within the team, a lackluster performance review, and a fearful outlook for what’s to come. Before you know it, you’re out there again in the same dire situation where you’ll have to overcome your fear to negotiate for your worth. The cycle repeats itself.

What’s worse … Is a lawsuit that might inadvertently strengthen a reified self-worth(lessness). More fear can hide in the disguise of an example made out of seeming equality and empowerment.

The only way to break that spin cycle of (dis)empowerment-to-victimhood, is to cut the bullshit and start negotiating for your worth. Take that to the table, speak it loudly, present yourself skillfully. Train. Iterate. Repeat.

A fearful seed will never grow into a fearless tree. So plant wisely.

Emboldened by my desire to seek truths among my peers, my mentors, and fellow humans regardless of gender, I’d love to hear how your own valor in the workplace has either granted you opportunities or enslaved you with oppression. It’s my deepest wish for us to all carry on unimpeded to achieve evermore than superficial gains — Your self-worth is MORE THAN what you’re worth, but you have to know the first before you can speak of the second.

In the face of continuing backlashes when masculinity and patriarchy are threatened, make sure you’re standing on firm ground by always knowing your worth.

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