Why Do We Insist On Measuring Our Worth In Numbers?

Person jumping with joy
Image: Pixabay


Whether you keep up with the Kardashians or not, you might’ve heard that recently Forbes named Kylie Jenner a “self-made” billionaire at the tender age of nineteen. There’s been a lot of debate about whether Forbes has used the word “self-made” correctly or not. Then, to add fuel to the fire, the New York Daily News asked readers in a tweet to set their own lives in comparison to Kylie’s and to ask themselves “What are you doing with your life?”

From the beginning of time, the consensus has persisted that only those who have more are truly successful. More money, more power, more fame, more gadgets, more stuff. Even though humans have survived on earth for hundreds of thousands of years, even though we have evolved and developed consciousness beyond any other life form on this planet, somehow we still insist on measuring our worth by what we have in the bank.

By asking the public “What are you doing with your life?” the New York Daily News is forcing us to place ourselves–our lives–on a platform next to Kylie Jenner and to ultimately ask ourselves, “Am I enough?” Whether they meant to be controversial or not doesn’t even matter at this point; the seed of discord has already been planted.

Comparing ourselves to others is a gateway for unhappiness

The tweet propagates the belief that you can only consider yourself successful and worthy if you’re famous and making millions of dollars. It also propagates the idea that you need to accomplish these things at a very young age. Otherwise, it doesn’t count.

Comparison in itself is a dangerous practice. It creates cracks in our happiness so that we can never see ourselves as completely whole. If we are always comparing the shape of our journey with someone else’s, we’ll soon see ourselves as lacking. Never realizing that everyone’s path is like a thumbprint, unique to every single individual.

No two journeys are the same. We shouldn’t invalidate our own achievements, whatever the size of their impact. Nor should we belittle anyone else’s simply because they seem “smaller” in comparison to someone else’s.

As a matter of fact, the presumed size or impact of an achievement and its effect is irrelevant. The old saying of “every little bit counts” wasn’t made up by someone who wanted to presume to have made a bigger impact with their small actions. It was made by someone who knew that small actions add up. They knew that whatever little bit of positive energy you push forth into the world is bound to have an equally positive impact. Small actions ripple into bigger ones. Everything is connected.

Success, contrary to the idea the New York Daily News is presenting, comes in many different shapes and sizes. Ms. Jenner’s success might be measured by dollar bills but someone else’s success may simply be measured in sobriety chips. Someone else’s in finally acquiring a college degree at the age of fifty. Someone else’s would be successfully avoiding death and other terrors in a war-torn country.

Maybe someone’s success is simply getting out of bed in the morning and getting through another day. For some, simply finding the will to continue fighting day to day to find meaning in life is harder than accumulating any sized fortune over any period of time.

Only YOU can determine your own worth

Many people have answered the New York Daily News prompt with exactly the sort of response it deserves. People from all around the world have come together to show them that success and worth aren’t measured in dollar bills but in good, positive, forward actions. (See Twitter thread here.)

No one–and I mean absolutely no one–can determine your worth. No one should give you cause to question it either. Only you have the ability to do that. In the famous words of Eleanor Roosevelt “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” So if there’s anyone out there who happened to see that tweet or any other message attempting to make your efforts seem pointless, please, disregard them.

Only the work, passion and time you put into your positive actions can determine their worth. If all you’ve done all your life is get up to water the plants in your garden that in itself is of great value. So don’t let anyone ever place you on a platform next to anyone else to compare your chapter one to their chapter twenty. It’s like sitting a cat next to a dog and asking it why it can’t bark.

Let’s keep sharing our own accomplishments in the comments. Share with us what you’ve done with your life which makes you a completely worthy human being.

I worked on this post all week. Hopefully, someone will read it and find some hope within it.

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