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Resetting inequality comes down to simple economics
I walked out of a full time job in 2020, where I felt mistreated and enormously undervalued for all the hard work and dedication I’ve put in, including the substantial and quantifiable businesses I’ve won for the company. It had much to do with, as I’d discovered, gender bias.
After three years of patiently waiting for them to come through on the promises they had made and accepting their excuses and runarounds, I finally decided I would stop doing this to myself and left.
In that process, I realized for the past three years I had agreed to stay in an environment to be treated unfairly, based on a “promise” that they will treat me fairly if and when they decide to pay attention and recognize my contributions. Complete and utter bullsh*t.
We often forget that, when in situations of inequality or mistreatment, we each hold the choice to walk away. It doesn’t matter what anyone tries to make us believe, we always own that power. Circumstances or other people may make us feel like we don’t have an option, that we are trapped and have to do as we are told, but we always have a choice to accept or decline in our own best interest. And we can exercise that option whenever we want.
Inequality is a simple economic equation of supply and demand
There are people out there who mistreat and take advantage of others; there are people out there who put up with that and stick around for it.
I no longer want to be someone who sticks around and puts up with it.
I no longer want to be the supply to feed someone else’s habit of mistreating others.
Once I realized the role I played in that relationship, I also realized I can choose to either stop or continue to be that supply.
Whether it’s an issue of race, gender, or other, the principle remains the same for any type of inequality (even abusive personal relationships): we all have the choice to either continue being the subject of someone’s mistreatment or remove ourselves from that position. If we discontinue the supply chain, we kill the demand for it.
When we know our own self-worth is when people start to treat us differently
I realized I stayed for all those years because I was afraid things would stay the same no matter where I went. I was afraid to find out for myself I would be made to feel exactly the same at my next job or endeavor. I was too afraid to face that maybe I really deserved exactly what I got. The fact that I waited around for someone else to validate my self-worth made me realize I didn’t quite believe it myself. Somehow, I needed external confirmation that I was indeed valuable and that I deserve to be taken seriously.
Strangely enough, as soon as I left, I knew that fear was only an illusion. It was a false ceiling someone had created for us—one we can easily see through if we looked hard enough. I had stayed under that ceiling for so long that I failed to see the sky above it.
We each have the capacity to set our own worth. By that, I don’t mean we demand to get paid more or walk on the red carpet every day, but to recognize that when we care, and try, and work hard every day, we should never be made to feel like we need to prove our worth.
I grew up with a Chinese proverb that says: “The universe does not produce dead ends.” We will never be without options. Don’t let any job or relationship make you believe that they are the end all be all.
The day I gave notice at my former job, the head of our department (who previously took a condescending tone toward me) called me from the East Coast headquarters within 15 minutes.
“I was told you were leaving.”
Me: “Yes, I am.”
“I’m just calling to give you the opportunity to get some closure.”
Me: “I’m comfortable with my decision and don’t really need closure, but thanks for your offer.”
I immediately felt I took back control of my life.