After I wrote the title I realized immediately I posed a bigger question that I had originally intended. I came into this with the intention of diving into the world of art – work in general, really – and what the challenge around accepting payments, help, and praise. Right now, I am choosing to accept that perhaps this is a bigger feat of writing and introspection than I originally anticipated.
Last week I had a meeting for some creative branding work I’m going to be doing. When they asked me what my rate was, I blanked. “Just pay me whatever you’re paying me here anyway!” I could tell there was a bit of hesitation on their part too. Where is the balance? How do you not offend someone by offering a rate? What even is the going rate for this kind of work? Can I even charge that as someone who didn’t go to school for this? What am I doing with my life?
Classic though spiral. For me, anyway. But I have a feeling this may be familiar for a lot of you. This act of naming my price has been a challenging pill to swallow. It boasts a lot of ego but also humbleness. What do I think of my work and what do others think of my work? It’s hard. And not being willing to define our worth makes it all the more challenging when we’re offered things.
People offer me help with the design side of the herHABITAT website and I politely decline knowing I can’t pay them. The idea of money as the only exchange has become a norm that challenges how humans actually work. We don’t always feel this need to reciprocate, for example when a friend offers to make us dinner often we ask if we can bring anything or say thank you – rarely is there an offer to pay. We understand that this exchange isn’t about the food, money, or gain. It is about appreciation.
Appreciation is the lost aspect of acceptance. I have noticed an decrease in appreciation, and an increase in expectation. Not only of others, but in ourselves mainly. We have devalued what we give and do so much that when others want to appreciate that or give back we simply can’t fathom it. We expect so much of ourselves and appreciate so little of what we do.
We don’t understand that we do good. That what we do is necessary. That sometimes we help people without even having to try! Or not consciously try anyway.
So, I suppose why we find it so hard to accept is all intertwined. It’s not as simple as give and take. It’s a complex field of self-worth, objective observation, societal pressures and norms.
The question we can begin to ask ourselves is, what value do I place on myself?
Where does this value come from?
Did I make it up, or did someone tell me?
Is it realistic?
Am I truly letting myself and others hold me to my full value?
Why do I shy away from an appreciation of myself and what I do?
How does this affect what I’m willing to accept?
How does what I’m willing to accept affect other aspects of my life?
Is my reluctance to accept and appreciate affect me negatively?
What is the potential if I open myself up to appreciation?
What will happen to me and my life if I accept?
My biggest fear behind accepting and appreciation is that I won’t be able to reciprocate what is being given – that reciprocation is always necessary (again, where did this come from? I do not expect this why do I think the same of others?). That I will be taking advantage of these things. That I am secretly not worth it. That I am lying to the world and making everything up and that one day, after accepting so many things, someone is going to turn around and go “Hey! You didn’t know what the hell you were doing here!”
The truth is, I don’t ever really know what I’m doing. What is knowing? Do even the most talented in each profession truly know, or do they become comfortable with not knowing and see where that potential can take them? What is so wrong with trying anyway? What is the importance of perfection?
I think the thing to really assess (and then trash) is why we think we have to be perfect in order to be deserving?
Written by Forest Greenwell