When it comes to the holiday season, there are so many things that run through the mind, including relationships. As a young professional and graduate student, it can be difficult to find ways to provide for friends, family, and even yourself. But there's always something that will replay in the back of your mind: self-worth.
The "W" word has been something I've seen close friends struggle with over the last few years. In the fall of 2012, I took a freshman (we'll call her 'K') under my wing because I could relate to her. Our families didn't have much money, we attended private school ($50K/yr) and were struggling to enjoy college. In the first 24hrs, she practically gave me her life story, including how she had made friends with one of the senior football players. Well, this is where the "W" word comes in to play....sans touchdown (no pun intended).
As a freshman, I never thought I could dare to even speak to a senior boy, let alone an athlete. Having the fabulous physique she still has today, I knew she wanted to play her cards right...that was until I learned that the senior was on and off with his girlfriend. Being the honest individual I am, I told the young woman I didn't think it was appropriate for her to engage with him. 'K' asked why, so I explained that her worth isn't worth risking her person. In college, you don't know someone after a week of being campus-mates, and you certainly don't know them if you don't know their relationship status. However, she didn't take my advice to lightly.
During the late fall/early winter, we began to shop for the holidays. Knowing she had been spotting my Coach bag, I opted to pick something up for her with the money I had saved up. Our friendship was more family like at this point, and I decided to buy her a black Calvin Klein bag, which her face lit up so bright when she opened the package. Shortly after, I spotted her getting ready for a party. I figured it was a campus party, but it wasn't. A campus organization was hosting a holiday gathering off campus and she was going. I knew 'he' (the football player) was going to be there, so I chatted with her. Asking her to be careful of what she consumed and who she stood with, she agreed to text or call if need be. And off she went, in a Christmas red, fitted dress and the CK bag.
After not hearing from her, I text one of my friends and they happened to be with her. The story goes that he saw her, she saw him, and he was with his on-and-off girlfriend of possibly four years. 'K' was devastated, but remembering what I had told her about engaging with him, she bounced back. When I woke up to her on my bed the next day, she gave me a hug and kept saying "Thank you mom, you were right." Apparently the look on his face was just as devastating as hers, but she took his face and ran with him. Knowing she shouldn't have marched on that situation, she resulted in conquering his position. For the months that followed, he would run into her and not say a word, while she just smiled; he would text her and she would ignore him. Why you ask? She knew her place wasn't with some senior football player who was going back and forth - she realized her worth was more than flirting with some guy who would be graduating in four months. She knew her worth was worth $50K a year for happiness and friendship, not puppy relationships.
You may be reading this and think that the story has nothing to do with holidays, relationships, or even self-worth....but you're sadly mistaken. Worth comes in different forms, and in this case, it came with knowing your stance and making the most of it. I value my friendship with "K," not because we're like family, but because she knew what she had to do, but needed someone to give her that extra push of encouragement.