It’s never game over for you: why you matter more than you think
About a year ago, my mother said something unusually woke for a Thatcherite stockbroker who doesn’t think feminism should be a thing. I was having a rare (resolved) moment of crisis and she was actually helpful.
“If your worth is your education, job title or your income, then why would we all still love you so much? You’ll always more than a grade, an employee, a statistic on a sales spreadsheet. You’ll be loved.”
When I’d finished sobbing all over her immaculate red suit like a fifteen-year-old who just got ditched by a floppy-haired moron, I realised why that had had such a profound effect on me, despite being a fairly obvious statement.
Worth is so often deduced by the next commission, salary bracket, audition, years of experience, PhD, the next mortgage, the next M&S shopping trip and so on. All too often, you can view yourself, your failures and successes through the lens of what we earn or what we have done. We get grades to go to college, degrees to go to work, and work to earn more money than your peers. But is that how people will remember you? I’d argue strongly to the contrary.
I don’t remember my grandmother’s tax bracket or how much her house had cost her. I remember when she held me all night as a child because I’d had a bad dream.
What is inherently yours — what is a gift to every smile, kiss and compliment you pay — is your kindness. It’s the jokes you can tell by the swimming pool. It’s the way you dance and leave everyone wanting to get up and dance with you. It’s the astonishment and joy when someone discovers you like their interests. It’s the hugs you give your children before bed. It’s the hand you held of the woman crying on the tube. It’s that coffee you bought for your unhappy friend. It’s that text you sent to someone having a really bad day. That’s what defines you. That’s what your worth is.
“I thought you wanted me to be a success,” I wept at her. “I’ve let you down.”
This made her laugh like a horse, a family laugh I’ve unfortunately inherited. “You are a success. I’m proud of you every day. You’re kind.”
“But you spent so much on my education!”
“Yes,” she mused. “But that’s irrelevant. You’ve got what matters. You’re resilient. You care about people. You can forgive people.”
“What if I lose everything?”
She shrugged. “You’re an asset. People have seen that before, and they will again.”
We sat together while I tried and failed to get mascara out of my hair.
“You could work in a shop as a cashier when you graduate- you never would Madelaine, they’d never hire you, you’ve got such a mouth on you- and if you could look me dead in the eye and say you were a good person, I’d be proud of you.”
In short: there are people out there who love you.
There are people out there who want you to come home tonight, to hold them, to make them a cup of tea and tell them stories. There are people out there who don’t care how much you are making, what your sale ratio is, what your KPI might be or whether you did amazingly in your role as Chief Statistical Operator at that firm in Acton. You are not useless, you are not hopeless, and this isn’t the end. Don’t jump, fly.
I’m a proud daughter, sister, cousin, niece and friend. I work hard, I love, I learn, I adore those bright and shining people in my life and I make people laugh.
I have a tomorrow, I have a next year, I have a next decade and I have a time when I will be the woman I want to be.
And you do too.
Hang in there.
You’ll be loved.