You deserve it

When you live with low self-esteem your whole life, there are many times you just feel like you don’t deserve good things in your life. Good things like a good salary from your full-time job, a bunch of great friends, or an abundance of opportunities.

It can stemmed from constant exposure to comparison with relatives and friends in terms of education, wealth, the house you live in, the type of clothes you wear, etc. Or it could even stem from how you are talk at by people around you.

And so over time, you believe that you actually feel like you are nothing and whatever you do don’t amount to anything. So you put in less effort and feel depress. Ultimately, you find yourself making decisions and take actions that feed into this vicious cycle of diminishing your sense of worth and value.

You know what? You probably deserve that because nobody can really make you feel that unless you allow it to.

I know because I allow that to happen in my life. I allow people to tell me that I’m worthless and useless until the point where I believed them. And so my actions actually reconcile with those beliefs. It also affected how I negotiated for things in life. And the biggest pain point stemming from that is how much you are paid for the work you do.

It’s actually rather embarrassing to admit that I undervalued myself in terms of my salary because I thought that I don’t deserve the higher pay because I concluded whatever I did before landing at my current job was useless and non-transferrable. I came to believe that my short stint at my previous company meant I don’t deserve the higher pay.

And it came to bite me in the ass recently. The news and what my friends have been saying about the state of the industry and how well other software engineers are paid finally got to me. I feel like I’m finally not paid what I’m worth. And then there’s the realisation that the things I do are really too simple. Yet, I didn’t want to take on more stuff because I thought I wasn’t paid for it. Honestly, it’s an interesting contradiction to see and the motivation to do anything really takes a beating from going through this.

Now that is really a stupid thing to do.

It’s the truth that the biggest hurdle to anything you want to achieve is yourself. You just have to believe in yourself and your ability to take on anything. If you have been doing something for years and years, honing your skills repeatedly and going for various kind of training, there’s really nothing out there that you can’t solve. All you do need is trust yourself to solve it using whatever resources at your disposal.

This was why I finally made the leap to quit my job last Friday. I feel like it’s probably time I take on something more challenging typically found in a startup environment and expanding out from just purely development role. Mentoring is something that I can consider doing. So now I am currently serving out my two months notice period. My manager, of course, is now attempting to retain me by throwing in a bunch of carrots. I will adopt a wait and see attitude to that but deep down, I really doubt the company’s ability to meet my request. Thus, I didn’t stop searching for new jobs. What is depressing is that I haven’t been getting any response from potential employers. However, I can’t give up just yet.

The key take away is this: believe in yourself, push yourself out of your comfort zone by a little and adopts a growth mindset, you probably deserve whatever good things that’s to come your way. Just ask for it, and you shall receive. Even if you didn’t, you also won the game. You won by stopping yourself from believing you deserve nothing good.

You are your own limiter

Unlike animals, humans can do a great deal of things. We have achieved far more than any living creatures on this planet. We have built civilisations and organised ourselves that no other animals do, constructed living spaces using materials we fashioned from nature. And we have even built virtual worlds and communicate over vast distances using electricity by manipulating how they move.

Yet, we are all flawed in different ways. Most of our decisions are muddied by our emotions and how we see the world. Because of that, we have people who are over-achievers at one end and people who can’t even take care of themselves even when they are in adulthood at the other end. And that’s excluding people with disabilities. Hell, even some disabled people can achieve way more than able-bodied people.

Our emotions and feelings affect our behaviours and how we interact with the world. So if you lived a life full of emotional scars and setbacks, you can either be very fearful of what life has got to offer or you become very apathetic and cynical.

In my case, I grew up in a risk-averse environment with one dominant parent who is highly-neurotic and a pessimist. You have to listen to all the negative things. And then when you go to school, you have to face teachers who, instead of encouraging you, actually speak negatively of you in front of everybody. Making matter worse, your relatives also chimed in from time to time when you do see them. So you see, when you experience such things when you are between 5 to 14, it’s very easy for you to believe the following phrases to be true: ‘you are good for nothing’,’Can’t amount to much’ or ‘he’s so stupid’.

And in fact, it’s so ingrained in me that I even tell myself those words from time to time when I do face setbacks. Even today, after having audit myself and try to take back control of my thought processes. It’s actually very difficult for me to tell myself the opposite even when I do catch myself doing it. So self-esteem is really low. Self-confidence is also lacking. And being in the workforce isn’t helping at all due to the rapidly changing situations and you have a higher rate of failure than you face in school.

You know what’s the scary thing?

You just automatically learn that it’s best to do the safe thing. Be low profile. Do what you are told. You just watch yourself do those because your psyche is too weak to take any more blows. End up, you are limiting yourself and the opportunities you can have to live a better life.

And I can tell you there are times when I’m just scared shitless for no good reason during the first few days of my job hunt. The “Apply” and “Upload Resume” buttons feel like they are out to get you. A big part stemmed from my beliefs that I can’t do those stuffs mentioned in the job descriptions. I almost wanted to resign myself to do work in a company that it’s obviously a wrong fit for me. Well, I could and can feel it in my bones. But the moment I got started hitting the first “Apply” button, the fear just disappear. It’s now boil down to whether I want to work for that company before hitting the button.

This is something I need to remind myself every time. There’s no one stopping me from doing anything I want. Only I can stop me from doing anything I want. So if I want to join some of the biggest names in tech, I can. I just have to find a way to convince the hiring managers I’m a good fit.