Finding Your Worth When You Feel Unworthy
With a Thor cameo thrown in…
“What are you?” she asked me. But I was too enthralled with the fact that I was face-to-face with a relative — my second cousin — to register what she meant by her question. I was just excited to learn that I had a relative who was around my age. I responded back, “I’m Thai, too.”
If you’re a superhero movie lover like I am, you have probably seen the Thor trilogy. SPOILER: Do you remember the scene where Thor is casted off by his own father?
Thor Odinson… you have betrayed the express command of your king. Through your arrogance and stupidity, you’ve opened these peaceful realms and innocent lives to the horror and desolation of war! You are unworthy of these realms, you’re unworthy of your title, you’re unworthy… of the loved ones you have betrayed! I now take from you your power! In the name of my father and his father before, I, Odin Allfather, cast you out!” — Odin from Thor
The times when we question our worth can often feel like the larger-than-universe epic moment when Odin casts out his son to Earth — a lesson for Thor to learn humility and true worthiness.
In the same way Thor must have been feeling (TERRIBLE), no person enjoys self-deprecation. Or the feeling of being “casted out”.
It makes us feel weak, pathetic, whiny… sometimes even unloved. At the same time, these are powerful moments we can use not only for self-reflection, but as a crucible moment to change gears in our mindset.
Many successful writers I come across bolster the idea of becoming vulnerable with readers. There is truth in these words — more than we often like to admit.
It’s hard to be vulnerable with people, though. In the moment of fragility, you put your trust in a person.
A sense of vulnerability is tied to the idea of worth. We often don’t put the vulnerable parts of ourselves out for display because of our fear of trust.
When we trust people, the automatic assumption is that we already love them. We know they will find worth in our words, our strengths, and our flaws.
We trust those we love and those who love us know our worth. There is no gray area with these individuals.
But the issue we find ourselves time and again is when we try to define our worth based on stature, rank… social constructs.
When I unintentionally defined my worth, this is what I found:
Your Identity Does Not Define Your Worth
Nearly eight years had passed since the last time I had talked to my second cousin. In the past few years, memories of her and my relatives in Thailand would creep into my mind. I wondered how my cousin was doing. My relatives, in general. They were family, after all. The itch of curiosity got to me to the point that I knew I had to take action.
So I contacted my grandma.
I told her about my wants to reach out to my second cousin back in Thailand.
“Don’t worry about her. She comes from a different world,” my grandma said, trying to keep the mood light.
I didn’t want to believe my grandma’s words, though. I was aware that the other side of the family came from privilege.
I didn’t think it would matter.
I thought the blood that coursed through our veins would be the same — it would be what connected us together. I remember thinking to myself:
The instant moment that I talk to my cousin, we will “feel” the connection because we are family.
After a year, the question still nagged at me. I still wanted to know. I asked my grandma again… about how I could reach my second cousin — any relative for that matter back in Thailand. I told my grandma how maintaining connection with my Thai roots was important to me.
I will try again and talk to your uncle. Love you.
Your Worth is Not Found. It Already Exists.
The next day, my grandma got back to me. She let me know how busy my cousin was, but how she was able to obtain her contact information. I thanked my grandma, elated that I finally would have the opportunity to reconnect!
I typed in my cousin’s user id into LINE.
No user found.
I typed in her phone number.
No user found.
I typed in her phone number with every combination I could come up with plus the country code.
No user found.
But I wasn’t going to give up yet. I contacted a brother from Thailand— my former student — nong (brother in Thai).
Those Who Truly Care, Already Know Your Worth
After nong and I attempted to find my cousin, I gave the “mission” a rest for awhile.
I rationalized — made excuses — for why she wasn’t able to contact or reach out to me. There had to be a logical explanation.
Later that week, it was like my prayers were answered. My grandma sent my cousin’s direct LINE contact through a message:
“This is Line of your cousin. I hope you can get to her.”
Whether or not I could reach my cousin, the fact that I had people on my side helping me find her was what truly astounded me…
Even so, as I opened up my cousin’s profile on LINE, I looked at her profile. I tried to see if we held any resemblance (besides being Asian). I attempted to find any inkling of information that would point to if we had anything in common.
Immediately after “perusing” her profile, I sent my message.
But her response back was not what I was expecting.
I heard you need some help with your assignment?
What was I expecting? In my head, I had imagined something along the lines of:
“I’m so glad we can reconnect. Let’s make plans. We can be bffs. I want to see you…”
I have to admit that her words — no matter how trivial — stung a little. We were blood-related, but I felt like I was being treated as a stranger.
And the fact was… we were strangers. My mind wasn’t willing to compute this truth.
But the reality is, you can’t project your own thoughts and expectations on someone else. That’s what I had done.
I was already imagining heart-to-heart texts and calls, with little hearts and xo’s at the end of each message.
Should I add a ❤ at the end of my message? After the end of our short-lived text conversation… I gathered not.
Instead, I told her how much I looked forward to seeing her and the family, adding a smiley face at the end.
I didn’t receive a response back. Or at least, not yet.
You Let Yourself Feel Unworthy
After sending the message, my heart grew heavy.
It took me weeks to find her… I had help from grandma… a former student… to find her. What if the reason she didn’t contact me was because she didn’t want to reconnect with me?
I wasn’t worth the time.
I felt the pinpricks envelop my heart… as if parts of my heart would fall apart. I let my tears fall, biting back the sound of my whimpering sobs so that my brother and parents wouldn’t hear from the other room. In my tears, a debilitating feeling coursed through me —
A sense of self-loathing. I hated the feeling. Of not measuring up to the standards of the other side of the family.
I’m just a teacher surviving paycheck to paycheck, using the money I earn to maintain a classroom, saving the scruples I gather to pay bills, and the rest to fund my escape: my travels. Of course she wouldn’t want anything to do to me. What would I have to offer in a friendship?
I cried even more, because I knew I was crying over something silly. I knew that worth had nothing to do with society’s definition. But within the moment, my inner pep talk wasn’t working. I let myself wallow in negativity…
I felt I was being measured by my value as a business transaction rather than a personal connection built on meaning.
And the real reason I was crying: I knew I was in the wrong.
I wiped away my tears, my dogs coming up to me, their deep, puzzled eyes glued on me. I hugged them and a wave of comfort washed over me.
“It’s okay,” I assured my dogs as if they would understand my words. It was really more for my own self-assurance than for my dogs.
Being Worthy or Unworthy is a Mindset.
To some, friendship… love…is not enough.
But the important lesson I learned is this:
Give love anyways. Freely. Without condition.
But guard your heart. Only let people in — trust those — who see your worth.
In some ways, as I look back, I better understand the point of view of my second cousin. It’s hard to trust people when you don’t know who they are and their intentions. Her family came from money. It’s very easy to assume that someone would want to take advantage of the “rich”.
But this mindset is wrong. My mindset is wrong, too.
This same argument can be made for the “poor”.
Which would bring us to the question… what is true worth?
You Are Your Own Worth
Your worth is not defined by others.
Your worth is not measured by the size of your bank account.
Your worth is not automatically assumed because of your stature or nobility.
Worth is about acknowledging both your smallness in the universe, as well as your greatness within it — what’s also known as humility.
Without you, the universe would be a little less.
You are here, and for this reason, you have added MORE to this universe.
You were added to the world. This is worth. You are the worth in this universe, no matter how small you think you are.
Because worth is…worth.
It’s not measured.
Who can say the sun has more worth than the moon? There is no comparison.
Who can say the skies have more value than the oceans? It’s unfathomable.
The fact that you are an addition to the world is worth.
But at the same time, you decide if you want to be positive or negative worth through your actions and mindset. Let this be the reminder.
You are worthy of an earth-shattering type of love.
You are worthy of living the life you have always imagined.
You are worthy because you are your own worth.
I’ve met several people who have defined worth based on one’s accomplishments and the money that one makes.
And boy, how we must be dirt to them by those standards.
But that’s okay. Because even dirt has worth, too.
You are worth it.
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Thank you for reading. =)
With love. Spread the worth. ❤