Practicing Self-Worth Beyond Measurable Success

Society programs us to determine self-worth by measurable and visible success. Perhaps it is time for us to let go of this story.

Intersection in beech forest on a rainy day
Does it really matter which path I choose to feel worthy?

Today, nature taught me something about self-worth beyond success. The rain pulled me outside. I love being in the forest on rainy days, satisfying a deep craving to be alone with nature. I am in love with the sweet, aromatic smell of the forest floor, with the soft light bouncing off the wet leaves, with raindrops gently rolling off my coat.

A large beech tree marks the center of an intersection I come across. Seven paths fork in all directions. As a child, I was in love with the book De Zevensprong, which takes place around a sevenfold intersection in the forest. I still remember how I imagined this intersection. Now I am standing in my own fantasy, 25 years later. I am in awe of how little I understand about how time works.

Thinking Differently About Self-Worth

While I pause I realize how important intersections are in my life. It feels good to stand there, deliberately taking in each path, one by one. As a genuine product of my generation, choice overwhelms me. I grew up in a society that believes that you can do whatever you want. On the one hand, this opens up an inspiring register of possible futures. On the other hand, it creates in insane amount of pressure. Because if I fail to be what I choose to be, it probably means I didn’t work hard enough, right? Society programs me to determine my self-worth by measurable and visible success. This way of thinking is just one of the possible narratives to live a meaningful life. Therefore, perhaps it is time for me to let go of this story.

While I am standing at the crossroads the canopy of the old beech tree protects me from the rain. Its green bark feels smooth to the touch. One of the paths looks promising. As I am about to head off, a couple wearing matching pink raincoats appear from behind a curve in the road. Second guessing my choice, I quickly dart off in a different direction. Perhaps my choice wasn’t so deliberate after all.

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