In my exploration of worth, I realized I often confused it with deserving.

Deserving is a tit-for-tat mentality – I deserve to get something because of something else I have or do. Sometimes that thing I deserve is a punishment (I deserve a time out because I hit my brother) or it is a prize (I deserve a toy because I cleaned my room). In either case, it is a carrot/stick approach and does not serve us.

In an enlightening conversation with my friend A, I asked them about a seemingly offhand comment I heard that was in the vein of – “I know a lot of Black families. They are all good people.” [original racial group changed] This statement was made in an exchange about racism faced by these marginalized families. Someone pointed out that a statement like that is racist, and I was very confused.

A explained that this statement in this context is racist because it places a justification of the racist acts on the behavior of the Black person (i.e., they don’t deserve these acts of racism because they are good people) when in reality, a person of any race or identification is inherently worthy of respect regardless of their prior actions or any judged or perceived characteristic.

My mind was blown having grown up in a culture where punishment is normal and respect is earned not given. But thinking about it at a very simple level, it makes sense.

Worth speaks to the human-ness in all of us while deserving speaks to the ego. I will choose my human-ness over my ego any day.

——

I write everyday because it allows me to voice what is at the surface. Once that is out of my head, I can dig in another layer deeper. My daily writing practice has been my greatest exploration of self and humanity. Sign up here to receive these thought nuggets in your inbox on the daily.