I have a very distinct memory of a conversation I once had with my brother-in-law. He was making a purchase- what I can’t remember- and he justified what I considered lavishness by basically saying, “I work hard. I deserve it.” I remember thinking, since when does what we deserve have anything to do with what we get?
It often feels this way, that for good or bad people don’t get what they deserve. I think we can all relate to this. Watch the news one morning and there’s no question- with all the tragedies in the world and all the corruption, karma sure seems to take her time.
On the other hand, the feeling that you do not deserve something is dangerous. We recently bought a house and got a really good deal on it. Someone else’s misfortune allowed us to buy a house that we couldn’t otherwise afford . This idea that we lucked into our house leaves me tiptoeing around it. We have to take very good care of it, because we don’t really deserve it.
Then last night, chatting with an old friend, we were discussing how women apologize constantly. Even though we’re well-read, clued in feminists, we find ourselves apologizing frequently when it’s completely unnecessary. I often apologize for my emotions, for asking questions at work (Sorry to bother you, but…), for wanting more, for having a nice house.
It is this concept of not-deserving that keeps resurfacing. I’m not sure if I deserve to be emotional. I’m not sure if I deserve to interrupt your day. I’m not sure if I deserve to want more from my life.
While in my daily life I struggle with the fear that I will become or seem entitled, that I will seem forceful and less open and even projecting these same fears onto other women, I also have to recognize that standing up for what you feel you deserve (even if you’re wrong), believing in yourself more than you believe in others, and eliminating apologizing is the only way I can find personal and professional success. It is also the only way that women will get ahead in their work, in their homes and anywhere life takes them. (I struggled just to write that sentence without a disclaimer of “I think…” or “In my opinion”. It’s a long road for me.)
You often hear the saying,
It is better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission,
but that’s hard to do for a person who feels they don’t deserve either. It may sound extreme but consider whether or not this is something you do in your life in small or big ways. Put others before yourself. Trust others opinions before your own. Hesitate to ask for what you want because it might inconvenience someone else.
Every day is a journey, y’all. And we have to stop spending it thinking about what we don’t deserve.