A Defining Moment




the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.


a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.

It’s interesting to me how we determine the value of something or someone. Where would I be if I’d kept all those collectible metal lunch boxes I had when I was a kid? (I’m dating myself now.) We had no earthly idea what those things would be worth at the time.  

I went to an art gallery in New Orleans. There were pieces on display that looked as though someone cut on a shoebox with an X-Acto knife and glued one end of a string to the box and the other end to a quarter glued to the box. Mind you, I didn’t get it. I’m actually quite proud of the fact that I didn’t get it.

I find it equally challenging assessing the value of people at times. Just like art, the quality of humans is sometimes striking and vibrant. You couldn’t miss it if you tried. Other times, it’s very hard to tell, but as the previous illustration suggests, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

How do you estimate the value of human capital? If the advent of digital media outlets and the omnipresence of social networking are any indication, one party says, “They’re worthless.” Another party says, “They’re priceless.” Full grown “adults,” total strangers, hurl insults I wouldn’t dream of saying to my worst enemy. Who’s right? The answer is: When you’re the one being discussed, the one you end up believing is right be it an outsider or yourself.

There are variable definitions of the word ‘pride.’ A long time ago, I had a girlfriend who use to quote a proverb, “Pride comes before destruction and a haughty spirit before the fall.” She was alluding to this definition:

  • noun:   unreasonable and inordinate self-esteem (personified as one of the deadly sins)

However, there’s a little more to it than that:

  • noun:   a feeling of self-respect and personal worth
  • noun:   satisfaction with your (or another’s) achievements

There is such a thing as having a sober perspective of one’s intrinsic value. Sobriety is important, because it is a key factor in evaluating who you are through and through, strengths and weaknesses, good and bad. The problem is that many people are only conscious of the bad, and many others overinflate themselves. That’s a mask and overcompensation to hide their insecurities. Me? I’ve run the gamut.

When I was starting middle school, I was surrounded people who were, ummm……what’s a nice…..well, they were the antichrist. The sixth grade for me was largely comprised of staring at the ground, keeping to myself, being pushed around, and calling into the clinic for most of the year. Teachers and guidance counselors didn’t have a vested interest in my life. In some ways, they were as bad as the students. No one asked why I kept going to the clinic. I even found out that there were adults at my church that were saying pejorative things behind my back. Be that as it may, I didn’t rock the boat. Primum non nocere.

My life seemed worthless, cheap and inconsequential not because it was, but because I actually believed these idiots. I defined myself based on their input. If they belittled me, I didn’t question it. If they were degrading or demeaning, I’d roll with it. I got to knowing that tile design really well.

About a year and a half later, tired of all this, I was lying in my bed, and had an epiphany: It is astronomically dumb, pointless, and wasteful to go through life asking others permission for you to simply be who you are and who you’re meant to be. That was a noticeable turning point.

The next day, I started becoming the chameleon who could shift in and out of different cliques and circles. I didn’t have a clique of my own. I remembered what it was to be excluded. I didn’t neglect the outcasts. I remember how they were always there for me.

As an adult, I can tell you that you may like me, and you may not. I don’t have to care. You may chide me. You may diminish me. It only becomes my reality when I give you power over me by believing what you say. That ain’t gonna happen. You’re not that important.

You are valuable at the core and that value increases based on your contributions to the world, but when you think that value extends to me having to define myself by what you think of me, that’s where your value ends. Chances are you’re against me because I’m formidable, diligent, solid in my work and in my ethics. I know all of that is a thinly veiled attempt to hide insecurity because deep down on the inside you detractors know that I’m doing what you should be doing. Thank you for your opposition. I wear it as a badge of honor.

People, if you struggle with this in your life, it’s time you learned to live in the truth of who you really are, and what you have to offer the world around you. The rest of you will never amount to anything, or maybe you will……depending on whether or not you actually believe that.

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