Ahead of International Women’s Day, I wanted to focus on a subject I feel passionate about: a woman’s worth.
There is no relationship worth prioritising more than the relationship you have with yourself.
The phrase ‘me time’ is coyly whispered like it should be a luxury; something to be grateful for indulging in.
‘Me time’ is a necessity for our mental well-being and also in helping us to retain a healthy relationship with ourselves. ‘Me time’ should be practised every day. A bath, 10 minutes of reading on the train during your commute, blasting your fave tune while you make tea… there are so many ways we can weave this imperative headspace into our daily lives.
The more time we spend in someone else’s head space, the less we come to know ourselves. This is dangerous and will, over time, erode the layers of us.
Knowing yourself, your boundaries, beliefs, likes, dislikes and desires breeds inner strength. Strength equates to confidence. The more confident we feel in ourselves, the more we come to believe in our self worth.
My worth is decided by ME, and me alone.
No man, woman, interfering family member, toxic friend or oppressive colleague can determine or scathingly shape your self worth.
I’m so done with people who refuse to treat me with respect. I’m just not about tolerating that shit anymore. I do think there comes a point in everyone’s life where they are ferociously hit with this revelation – that miraculous moment when you think, actually no, I refuse to be spoken to or treated like this anymore. Why the actual hell should I grant somebody else the power to make me feel crappy about myself?
Bad relationships come in many forms: romantic, friends, family members and colleagues. We are sometimes even guilty of having bad relationships with ourselves.
I wrongly presumed that bitchiness, bitterness, jealously, nastiness and gossip would be left behind in the playground. How wrong I was. It seems these traits are still rife in adulthood, IF you find yourself surrounded by the wrong people.
Never underestimate the disease that can spread from others’ negativity. That shit is contagious. Flee from it and don’t feel as though you owe anyone an explanation.
Toxic people and situations are best avoided at all costs. Don’t get sucked into their energy.
If someone intentionally wrong foots you with the purpose of bringing you down, humiliating or intimidating you, do not stand for this! Please, for the love of God don’t just accept their behaviour - call them out on it!
Because why the actual f**k should you put up with that shit?!
DON’T wait for people to change. People very rarely do.
Life is tough. Adulthood has us by the balls and we have to be savvy to outsmart it.
There are certain situations whereby sticking up for yourself with the same force as you usually would is deemed as inappropriate - for example if a client/ customer is rude to you at work. I’ve had customer facing jobs before and honest to god on occasion I have literally just wanted to upturn the entire desk on their lap.
As hard as it to accept being spoken to like crap, we have to be cautious as to how we retaliate. If we respond with all guns blazing, we run the risk of losing our jobs. And if we lose our jobs, we lose our incomes, and our homes, and so on.
So we bite our tongues and we accept being spoken to like a piece of shit, at our own goddam detriment.
This ends here. Ladies, let me introduce you to the art of assertive!
In the face of moments of severe frustration at an unjust situation, my Mum always tells me to be ‘assertive, not verbally aggressive.’ It takes practise, believe me! But it does work. In places where retaining an element of professionalism is required, speaking up in a confident manner and calmly stating your point can help to diffuse a situation. Advising that you will not help the client/ customer/ colleague any further until they have reassessed their tone also works wonders.
If all else fails, kill them with kindness, even if it is laced with a detectable hint of sarcasm. I have personally never been able to master this tactic, but my mum is a wizard at it.
There are so many behaviours I wish I hadn’t tolerated – behaviours that still leave me reeling with animosity and an element of regret.
When I was 19, I was walking through town on a summer’s day. I stopped at a crossing and waited for the lights to change. A man came up behind me, put his hand up my dress and squeezed my bum. I was too shocked to say or do anything. I whipped round, and the man looked the other way, acting oblivious. As soon as the lights changed, I ran across the road, blinking back tears.
I blamed myself for wearing a dress.
In my early 20s, I was on the bus on my way home from a Take That concert. I was wearing a pretty white dress with a heart cut out chest.
An older man a few seats in-front pretended to take a selfie, then cropped the image so it was just a picture of my chest. I was absolutely mortified, but didn’t say anything. I simply did my coat up and subtly moved seats, as if I was in the wrong!!
I didn’t tell anyone because I thought it was my own fault for wearing something with a cut-out chest.
If either of the above incidents happened now, I would kick off ROYALLY. I would let everyone within the vicinity know what was going on and I would publically shame the culprit so they could feel even a fraction of the disgrace I felt.
At the age of 22, I started a new job. I had an utterly unbearable manager who patronised the shit out of me. I knew the job, having worked in the industry before, but she refused to even let me have log-in details for the systems for over a month, instead banishing me to the kitchen on ‘brew duty.’ When she wasn’t doing that, she was taking money out of the company till and making me go to Greggs to buy her high-paying customers bacon butties. Her customers were just as rude and condescending as she was.
I spent the first month of my time in that job feeling absolutely infuriated. I did nothing about it, because she was my manager and therefore of authority, and I was just a 22 year old girl, relatively fresh faced in the world of work compared to my colleagues. In terms of the workplace, I had low self-esteem and didn’t consider myself worthy of raising the concerns I had.
When I think about it, I’m furious with myself! I wish I had questioned her unfair rules and asked her to stop being so patronising. I wish I had told her pig-ignorant clients to buy their own bloody bacon butties.
To be honest, I wish I had smeared her face with the underside of a bacon buttie and filled her handbag with cold tea.
The only streak of rebellion that came out during that time was when I ‘accidentally forgot’ to put milk in her tea. She took a sip and almost spat it out in the face of one of her customers. Ha ha ha.
In the end, she left and got a bollocking from HR for poaching customers on her way out, so karma caught her up eventually. The day she left, I got my log-in details and secured my first customer. I went on to adore that job.
I have stayed too long in bad relationships of all manners and have achieved nothing but wasted time that I will never get back. I have reluctantly agreed to be compliant even when I wasn’t in agreement, because I didn’t have enough faith in myself to question the circumstances. I have suffered at the hands of other people’s lack of respect because I allowed their behaviour. I have believed people’s bullshit and been falsely pacified by their promises of change. I have accepted apologies, only for the same incidents to occur time and time again. I have gone head to head with stubbornness and begged and pleaded, to no avail.
Why bother? If someone is unwilling to change behaviours that drag you down, then move on. You can’t cruise along on the false hope of their ‘next times’ forever.
Accept your differences with respect and dignity and live your life, away from them. Obviously, there can be rare exceptions and people’s personal situations have to be taken into account sometimes, but when the behaviour of somebody else is having a consistently detrimental impact on you and your mental health, you need out.
NEVER feel like you have to prove your worth to someone. If they refuse to see your worth, try to challenge or belittle it, or simply don’t treat you with the respect you deserve, they’re basically a narcissistic arsehole. Goodbye.
A woman’s worth is self respect.
A woman’s worth is refusing to accept anything less than respect from others.
A woman’s worth is speaking up with passion for all we believe in.
A woman’s worth is asking questions – she is not afraid to challenge or ask why.
A woman’s worth is rejecting the need to bite her tongue.
A woman’s worth is fierce and ferocious.
A woman’s worth is calm and collected.
A woman’s worth is fearless.
A woman’s worth is unapologetic.
A woman’s worth is strength.
A woman’s worth is validated by HER, and HER ALONE.
Cara Jasmine Bradley ©