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  • Writer's pictureAshley Raymond

Hello Job Search, Goodbye Self Worth?

The waves of emotions that wash over me as I open up Word to edit my resumé leave debris of doubt and insecurity on the shores of my self worth. The act of putting my skills, goals, and accomplishments down on paper becomes harder to navigate when I recognize this is what determines if others believe I am worthy. But...I know I am, right? Imposter syndrome makes it way to the surface and suddenly, I find myself withdrawn and losing faith in myself. Capitalism creates a subconscious pattern of attaching our worth to our productivity and what we can provide for others. It determines the ways in which we establish a quality of life. Healthcare, education, social and economic standing becomes a performance and we're under constant judgement by those deemed superior.

In order to create the reality I see for myself, I am required to prove myself fit to receive it. The internal workload is dense enough trying to prove to myself that I am deserving of the outcomes I want. These expectations exponentially grow when it comes time to convince someone outside of me that I deserve material stability. As a Black woman, the odds stacked against me are seemingly infinite. I step onto the stage in front of an audience that carries preconceived notions about my person and my abilities. The standards to which I'm held are unequal to that of my nonblack counterparts from my name down to my appearance. There are more inherent obstacles to my success than there are pathways and that alone can be quite disheartening. I do recognize that my name doesn't "sound ethnic" and I code switch with dexterity when it comes to how I speak. In the end, my worth becomes determined by how palatable my existence is for others. I have to strip, alter, and mask parts of my being in order to live well?

Experience is a major aspect of working and not just in skill, though that is quite essential. It's harrowing enough trying to pedal your skills and experience knowing I am another drop in a huge pool of candidates. I find myself sparring with imposter syndrome again reading through job descriptions and requirements hoping that my experience is enough. Cultural experience is equally, if not more essential to working. When I look at the teams behind companies that I could potentially work for/with, my confidence drops when I see no faces that look like mine. Am I going to be tokenized? Will they learn from our cultural differences? Can they respect all parts of me as I am? I've worked in spaces where there are clear differences in how I am treated by management compared to nonblack coworkers. Microaggressions in regards to my hair, my level of education or even my work ethic forces me into a space where I have to choose between my self worth and my livelihood.

So as I stare at my screen sifting through pages of job listings and different job boards, I find myself vacillating between confidence and fear. Fear of my failure or fear of my success, fear of hypervisibility and fear of invisibility. It is in these moments when I have to remember who I am beyond my resumé and beyond how I am perceived by others. My worth and value is not limited to what I put down on paper nor is it limited solely to my performance. I deserve fulfillment because I move with intention and I do my best to align myself with values that allow me to learn and grow as a person. I wrote this as a reminder that I am enough and I am an agent of growth. At times, it's harder to bet on myself but staying true to who I am never fails me.


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