We live in a world that is constantly telling us that we have to prove ourselves. Prove our worth. Prove we know what we’re doing. Prove we have the: experience, education, etc. to do what we are presenting to the world.
The irony here is the biggest roles we will play in this life:
These roles don’t come with uniform instruction manuals. They take decades to master, and even then, no one has it all together.
They say it takes 10,000 hours to be an expert in something. If we break that down, that is:
250 40-hour work weeks
500 20-hour part time work weeks
416 days of doing something 24/7 without a break
Let me tell you from experience, it takes more than that to be an expert at things like: being a spouse, being a parent.
We don’t master those things in just over a year. Life’s seasons mean these roles are constantly changing and we’re learning new things about them.
This constant emphasis on being an “expert” and “proving ourselves” to the world really begins to take a toll on us and on our mental health. We feel a constant need to prove it.
What people don’t usually think about or talk about is that the experts in any field don’t just stop when they hit that 10,000 hours.
Do they know they are an expert? Maybe
Do they quit learning and growing there? Not even a little bit.
They recognize their value. As they are. After 500 hours or 10,000 hours. But, they don’t stop there.
They demand the world treat them with the respect and dignity of someone who is knowledgable.
They carry themselves as someone who knows things about this area of interest.
They share that knowledge with the world, either by working in the field, writing about their field, speaking/teaching, or in any number of other capacities.
They recognize areas they still need growth in. They continue to learn and grow.
They stay in their lane.
Read that again: they stay in their lane. If they lack the knowledge or understanding, a true expert will tell you “this is my limit, but let me help you find the answer or point you to someone who can.”
So, what does all of this have to do with our value becoming a boundary?
If we spend so much time trying to prove our worth, our value, our offerings to the world, we devalue ourselves. But, if we simply go out and offer our value to the world, with all it’s limits and beauty, the world takes notice.
We get to say: “This is my value. This is who I am. You (the rest of the world) will treat me as such. And, if you choose not to, or choose to treat me as less, then you will not be getting my time/attention. You will be deprived of what I have to offer the world.”
In this way, our value becomes a boundary.
We recognize the areas in which we have expertise: parenting, business, ministry, creativity, marriage, etc.
We recognize areas we need to grow in, and we work on those.
We don’t speak on things we don’t have knowledge of, or we help others find the answers where the answers will be real and valuable.
We also don’t have to go out of our way to “prove” where this value came from, how it was earned, is it deserved.
Honestly, all it takes is immersion in that area to start to build that muscle.
Have you been a parent for a day? You get it. Welcome to the club. You have valid thoughts, opinions, and value in parenting (and, yes, this absolutely includes expecting parents in my mind).
Have you just gotten married? Great. Let’s chat marriage.
Have you sat through your first class on molecular biology? Well, you’re closer to a doctor than I’ll ever be. Welcome to the science community.
Okay, maybe that last one is a bit of a stretch, but you get the drift.
You have value simply by being part of the human existence. You’ve experienced hardship, pain, pressure, growth, change. You have developed your own ways of coping. You’ve cultivated your own set of dreams. And, if you’re really lucky, you recognize where your particular level of privilege is in this world. (Most of my audience is likely in the Western World, so we all have an innate level of privilege, some of us much more than others).
Simply by nature of all of this: you have value. You bring something to the table. And hiding it away until you “know enough” or can “prove yourself” really does you and the world around you a disservice.
Many of us aren’t meant to impact millions, we are meant to impact those right around us, in our immediate sphere of influence: our businesses, our families, our neighborhoods, our churches, our cities. We can’t do even that much if we hold ourselves back, refusing to acknowledge the value we bring to the table.
So, recognize the value you have, what you bring to the world around you, and bring it.
Demand others treat you as such, not my aggression, but by setting the limit and following through on removing your offering from those who refuse to accept it.
Walk boldly in that value, trusting that you’re continuing to learn and grow along the way.
Then, let the rest of us enjoy the beauty you bring to the world.
And, that, my friends, is the power of your value becoming a boundary.