Noun- The regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something
Verb- Consider (someone or something) to be important or beneficial; have a high opinion of
Value is such a tricky word to navigate because it is, by definition, subjective. How others value you, can (and often times does) differ from the value you place on yourself. That divide, depending on how wide the gap, can shape how we successfully move through life. We may not want to admit or accept it but, often times, our ability to succeed is aided by the value that others, who exist in positions of power, place on us and what we produce in relation to what satisfies them and their wants and needs. Success is therefore measured using the results of this interaction with others and the reward, remunerative or otherwise, comes with the assessment or opinion of that interaction. Many times, the work that we produce is not married to the value placed on us. We end up being either overvalued or undervalued, not because of our ability, but because of the perception of our ability. Though I didn’t understand this as a child, the interception of value and ability becomes confusing because the value placed on you and your abilities will differ from person to person and is rooted in opinion that may or may not focus on the core issue at hand.
We are told at quite a young age that in order to succeed we must work hard. We get introduced to this concept of “hard work” and its importance, by observing successful people and focusing on how it was that they were able to reach the pinnacle of that which they are deemed successful at. We are, inevitably, led to think that hard work results in success. If success depended on the amount and type of work we applied to tasks and nothing else, many of us would have a different life than the one we are currently living. Ignoring the other factors that come into play is tantamount to withholding the full truth that many are neither equipped nor interested in delving into, accepting or understanding. There are many hard workers who never taste success and there are many successful individuals who enjoy the benefits of success without putting in the required or necessary work.
I was a quiet student and was very shy and unassuming. I took those traits into adulthood and ended up learning a lot about this "perception vs. reality" concept. Many people tend to look at a person with characteristics such as mine and think that the lack of expected or perceived engagement symbolises a lack of knowledge or ability. When I was in High School, there were incidents that occurred that outright confused me and made me stop and think. One such incident occurred when, as students, we had been given Principles of Business (POB) homework. I arrived at school the morning it was due, only to be met with one of my friends freaking out about not getting the homework done. She asked me for help and begged me to allow her to copy my work. I said okay but told her to make sure that she jumbled the answers so it didn’t look like a photocopy of my work. I remember handing in the homework in such a way that our papers were quite far from each other in the pile that was presented to the teacher. Now, was it okay for me to allow my friend to copy my work? No, but since we’re not here to speak about the morality of either of our actions that day, it's probably best that we push on. We got our homework back the next POB class and, to my horror, the results were very telling. I remember my friend receiving her (my) work back and getting a percentage grade in the high 80’s. I received my work and I was graded in the low 50’s. The laugh that flew out of my friends mouth really cut me. We could say “no good deed goes unpunished” but, to be honest, with my personality I would do the exact same thing if I had to do it all again. I actually felt hurt because, in that moment, I was able to see that we weren’t graded based on the work that was on our pages but by another factor that allowed this teacher to think that my words were of lower value than my friends words, even though the words on both of our papers were mine. This work wasn’t multiple choice. This required thought, understanding, reasoning and application which, if you understood me as a student, I was very good at. The homework therefore depended on you to not only know the principles involved, but also tested how you applied the principles effectively. The exact same piece of work was graded differently by the same teacher, under the same circumstances with only one person putting in the work. In that teacher’s mind, was I not equipped to produce stellar work? If that is her thinking, why are the exact same words highly respected coming from someone else's handwriting? Had the teacher always graded me with some form of bias? Sometimes, for differing reasons and based on subjective perceptions, people process you at a lower level than they do others because the value they place on you and your abilities is cut short by other factors and biases. I came out of the POB external examinations with very high results, higher than my friend's results. POB was a subject I was very good at so the grades that teacher gave me fell short of destroying me because the exams that mattered were marked by examiners who worked not with names but with ID numbers. They had to pay attention to the actual words on the paper in front of them and not who was the writer of the words. At that stage though, is there a psychological impact? Possibly. But it all points a finger to the fact that anonymity in those kind of spaces was necessary to remove the possibility of being marked based on someone’s perception of you. Once my school days were behind me, I realised that the thing that used to save me was about to leave me and I now had to travel through life without an ID number. This is the point where I saw and experienced the full extent of value and it’s importance to success along life’s journey.
This "𝕍𝕒𝕝𝕦𝕖’𝕤 𝕍𝕒𝕝𝕚𝕕𝕚𝕥𝕪" series aims to speak about the importance of understanding how we progress and succeed in life when we are no longer anonymous and how we overcome or fall in the face of a perceived value of ourselves that we do not own.