Here’s the thing: words and worth


But not Wordsworth, not today.


I spend a lot of time trying to convince my students of their own self-worth. They are easily discouraged and that breaks my heart because it’s a feeling I know all too well. One of the reasons life can be so fucking hard is because we have skewed measures of our own worth. We feel as if our worth is measured by our looks or what we own or the title of our job. And when we stumble in our performance — a bad grade or an error in a project — that feeling of worth dissolves even more.

I am currently waiting to hear back from an agent who asked to read my entire first novel. Being between agents makes me feel worthless. Each day that passes that I don’t hear from this potential agent, my worth slips a little (at least in my estimation). My worth, for me, is in words. And right now I don’t feel like I have a lot to show for it.

It’s funny, then, that I am urging my students to ignore the same instincts that bring me down. All I want for them is to know that their worth is endless and derived simply from their existence. They are here. They are in a classroom. They are learning. They are living. They are here. This should be enough.

Here’s the thing: I dish advice all day long to students and friends and family. I need to take my own words, the words I value do dearly, I need to take them seriously. You can’t minimize your essential role in this life and neither can I.




Author: elizabeth dutton

i traffic in words

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