Photo taken by Talani Cooke
“So why didn’t you take the job?” I was about three white chocolate and passionfruit martinis deep at the Squire with Mum and my Aunt Jodie. I was listening intently, over-dipping zucchini chips in yoghurt, as Jodie explained why she had to walk away from a job she genuinely enjoyed.
“As much as I loved the job, I knew how much I was worth and they just weren’t willing to come to the table.” Jodie said, “You always need to know your value.” We clinked our glasses to this proposition, enjoying one of the last pre-pandemic acoustic Sundays.
When Jodie said “know your value” I knew she was talking about the workplace. Yet I couldn’t help think (and apply) this mindset to just about any aspect of my life, especially relationships. Simply put, we should only choose people who choose us - why should we invest time and effort in people who can’t appreciate our value? Yet it is so easy to become climatized and accustomed to letting people treat us badly because we can’t bear to not have them in our life at all. This often comes down to the thought process so eloquently described by Stephen Chobsky in the “Perks of Being a Wallflower” that “we accept the love we think we deserve.”
Breaking away from this habit is neither easy or quick. But it is important.
One of the first questions you are probably asking yourself is “but how do I really know if someone is treating me badly?” The answer is implicit in you asking the question in the first place - you already know. If you are entertaining the thought that you deserve more than what you are getting from somebody, you probably do. You need to back yourself and trust that you (and your instinct - it lives right next to your gut if you were wondering) know what you deserve.
The people who can see your worth, will choose you, and chances are, you will know they are choosing you because they make an effort to keep you in their life. Don’t get me wrong, it is important not to have unrealistic expectations of what you expect from people - and this something I am very guilty of doing. But when you think about it, when you are outside of High School or even Uni, it may not be possible to catch up with your friends every single week (or partner every single night). When everyone has jobs, partners and pilates classes to go to, it can be hard to find a regular time to catch up. But at the same time, if someone wants you in their life, they will make an effort to keep you there - even if it is checking in now and then with a text or actually rescheduling to see you when plans don’t align.
Now you may be asking “but what do I do if X, Y and Z don’t choose me?” And the answer is you do nothing. Because if X, Y or Z aren’t choosing you and putting in the effort, why should you? Chances are once you pull away, communication will probably cease. And that totally sucks. But it’s also okay. Because you don't really want to be wasting your energy on people who aren’t investing in you in return. You can put that effort into the people who already are choosing you. Or you can spend that energy on yourself and investigate new opportunities and interests which just might put you in the right place and time to meet those people who will.
Making sure I invest time in the right people was one of the biggest things I took away from 2020, including time spent in Melbourne’s lockdown. I realised that I was grateful for what I have lost as it had made way for what I had gained. For the friendships that had faded away, I built new ones. I invested my time in the people who regularly checked in to see how I was going during lockdown. I joined an “Iso Bookclub.” And I grew closer with my work family who bonded over the time spent doing stock and steaming clothes in time for Melbourne’s reopening. Don’t get me wrong, I still think about some of my old friendships and relationships, but I wish them all the best. Because, by letting them go, I have been able to invest time in those who have invested in me.