I recently discovered that I’ve been living with a low self esteem for years and years. Most of my life?
Anyone who knows me would think this is crazy, because I tend to be optimistic and have a Pollyanna attitude about life. Even so, I’ve struggled with depression. So many times I’ve screamed inside myself, “Nothing ever goes my way! Life sucks and God hates me! Why do I even bother trying to do XYZ?”
I know I’m not alone in struggling with feelings of worthlessness. At an early age, we’re taught that achievement – especially in the area of finances – is what gives us our value as human beings.
I can’t believe I bought into it. In fact, had successfully deceived myself that I was not at all materialistic, that money wasn’t important to me. I’ve heard all the sermons, could preach some of them myself. Even give you chapter and verse from the Bible.
Then came my latest novel…but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up a minute.
Make money with a blog?
B is a toddler. I am working tirelessly on my health-nut blog, trying to earn an income from both affiliate links and people buying my MLM company’s product. A still, small voice whispers into my spirit, “You don’t have to do this.”
But J is miserable in his job. Other women have “retired” their husband with both blog and MLM incomes; why can’t I be one of them?
That is my reasoning at that time.
I continue blogging.
The biggest check I ever get from my MLM company is around $20, and the biggest affiliate payment I receive is $10.
Make a full-time income as an Indie author!
Then, several years after people begin to make huge monthly incomes with Kindle, I decide to try to get my piece of the pie. I’ve already written a couple of novels that have been rejected by numerous literary agents and publishers, so I self-publish them. Am surprised when the first few reviews are four and five stars, so I keep writing novels.
By the way, J has already resigned from his position and we have moved out into a rural area to live off our investments and become part of the homesteading movement.
“B, can’t you see I’m writing?” becomes my mantra. My son wants to share what he’s been learning, or do something with me, or wants help with something, but he “knows” he’s not supposed to bother me when I’m pounding on my NEO2.
When am I not pounding out words on my NEO2? At first, I try for 3,000 words a day. Too stressful. Then I cut my daily quota in half. Much better, but still my voice continues to reverberate around the house with phrases such as, “Give me ten more minutes.” “If you can leave me alone for the next half hour, then I’ll…”
In other words, I make my writing more important than my son.
God has called me to be a writer, is my reason this time. A writer of books, not of blog posts. Even though we don’t need the money, I still need to be an author, because God has put it on my heart.
But then, look. I average $200 per month on book sales, and that’s if I’ve recently done a paid promotion. No way! I should be making at least ten times that per month. I need to get serious. Build an e-mail list, plan to write at least three books per years, up my marketing.
No pressure there.
“Look at those YouTubers. They make TONS of money!”
“I need you to take B out for an hour so I can make some videos.” So I say to J early one morning, receiving a heavy sigh in return.
Apparently, writing 1500 words per day on a novel that keeps my mind ties in knots most of the time while my pre-teen son clamors for my attention is not enough stress for me. I have to make videos for YouTube, too. In order to do that, I need quiet. So J and B have to leave the house for a certain amount of time two to three days per week.
Woe be unto me if it starts to rain the morning of a day I’d planned to create a few videos!
After seven years and nearly 600 videos, I still don’t have 2,000 subscribers and average $50 a month in income from the streaming ads YouTube puts on my videos.
Maybe I need to do more, or make them more professional, or create an entertainment channel, or…
It takes a novel
A while back, I wrote a post explaining how a memoir I’d recently read helped me with worry – to do less of it, that is. During the past month, the novel that I was writing helped give me a wake-up call regarding my value as a human being.
Long story short, I struggled to finish it. Two or three times I almost gave up. I didn’t understand, because I was excited to start it, loved the characters, and the first half of the book flowed really well.
By the time I finished it, I was done. I mean, DONE. As in, it was supposed to have been the second book in a four-book series. Now I’m not even sure there will be a third book in the series.
My plan was to begin proofreading it last week. I have yet to even download it to my Kindle (that’s how I do my proofreading).
What have I been doing instead?
Decluttering. Reorganizing. Rearranging. Dusting before the dust accumulates to obnoxiously noticeable levels – and not feeling resentful of the task because I wanted to get more written in a novel.
I have been paying more attention to B. I’ve been staying on top of planting the lettuce for the indoor garden. I’ve been doing more for my own enjoyment.
I’ve been feeling happier and less stressed than I have for a long time.
I blame it all on the novel. Because…
I realized that it was all about the money.
Somewhere during the past couple of weeks when I was finally laser-focused on my home and family, I began to ask myself why I was working so hard to try to make a decent income at writing – or YouTube – when I didn’t need to.
This wasn’t the first time. Ask J. We’ve had several conversations where I begged him to tell me that I didn’t need to try to make money.
The thing is, I didn’t get to the root of the problem until now.
That root is the belief that I am not a valuable human being unless I am making money. To make money – having a lot of people buy my books, getting a lot of views and thumbs-up on my videos – is to feel important. To feel like I’m contributing something to the world.
The more I distanced myself from the novel, and the more I decluttered and planned a reorganization of our home, and the more I engaged with B instead of blowing him off, the more I began to ask myself, “What’s so wrong with contributing to my world? Why can’t I just be happy with making my home a happy, comfortable place to be? Why do I have to prove to the world that I’m a great writer or video creator?”
Answers: 1) Nothing; 2) I can; and 3) – and here’s the clincher – because society has taught me that I’m a useless, worthless nobody unless I’m achieving something tangible, the most prized achievement being, of course, money.
The hell with society!
The fact is, my very existence makes me valuable. I am here because God wanted me to be here.
Your very existence makes you valuable. Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, the truth is that the Creator of the universe created you because He wanted you to exist.
I am worthy. You are worthy. Regardless of the amount of money we make, regardless of what we achieve in life.
Does that mean you ditch all your goals? Give up on your dreams? No. But it might mean you need to re-evaluate some things. It might mean taking a long, hard look at the real reasons behind your goals and dreams. Are they really about you and the kind of person you want to be, or are they about pleasing others or forcing yourself to fit into our culture’s idea of what is valuable or attractive?
I’m not giving up on writing novels. I’m not giving up on creating videos. But moving forward, I am going to write and create videos because number one, I enjoy the activities, and number two, because I care about what inspiration and help others might gain from my creativity.
I am no long going to chase a dollar bill. My value as a human being goes far beyond anything this world can give.
So does yours.