Self-Worth is Independent

March 31, 2024 – How can you understand your self-worth?

My daughter and I went out for lunch yesterday. It’s Easter long weekend and I really wanted to spend some time with her. In my family, when I was growing up, spending time with family (and showing love) was to go out for lunch or dinner. Initially, I wanted to go out for a big breakfast, but my daughter had other plans. It’s not that I’m trying to please her, per se, but I wanted to have a good time with her. Anyway, we landed on Chinese food. We went to the Fortune House near where we live in Prince George. This restaurant was a bit of a find for us. It’s not a restaurant that serves Chinese and Japanese food. It’s just Chinese food. Albeit, it’s “Canadian” Chinese, there is a small section on the menu that serves Cantonese style food.

We like to order the Cantonese style seafood chow mein, which is the food pic above. They make it really well and it reminds of of the special chow mein we used to order when I was a kid from Galaxy Gardens in Prince Rupert. We also ordered another noodle dish and chicken and cream corn soup. It was a fulsome meal and we had lots of left overs too. Makes for an awesome part two for dinner. Anyway, this blog post is not about what we ate for lunch, but rather what I am learning. Having this meal reminded me that food is one of the only connections I have to my heritage, family, and culture. I am reminded of my mom and how important it was for her to gather around the table to share food, stories, and memories. I have fond memories of this.

I am listening to an audiobook titled, WORTHY. Yes, I was drawn to this book after watching a Reel and Oprah Winfrey was talking to the author of this book. I may have took it as a sign and started listening to it. I just finished Chapter 1 and I am left thinking about my ethnic identity and sense of self. The first chapter of this book attempts to differentiate the difference between self-worth and self-confidence. In essence, self-confidence is dependent on life’s events, accomplishments, and failures. Self-worth is independent from external forces. One’s sense of self-worth comes from the inside and is resilient to the ups and downs of life. What I was left wondering about is, if I denied my ethnic identity for decades, what is my sense of self-worth?

On reflection, I spent much time trying to prove myself to possibly earn the respect that my siblings had or be seen for the accomplishments I’ve achieved to be accepted or belong. What I am realizing is, I had it all wrong. Much of my need to belong, I am learning, stems from my relationships and how I responded to different people in my life. I am dodging naming who and what is, but I have been stepping away from myself for a very long time such that my sense of self-worth was not existent because I believed my self-worth was dependent on what people thought of me. What a mess!! Self-confidence and achievement do not equate to one’s self-worth. Understanding this difference and unpacking my ethnic identity as an Chinese Canadian are helping me to understand an appreciate my self-worth. I am happy.

The more moments I have to reflect on life to make sense of the world and who I am, I am compelled to pursue my research program under the umbrella of an autoethnography, focused on a research question relating to belonging. This work connects to my other research interests in mathematics education, teacher education, and educational leadership. In these contexts, I am engaging in the following research methodologies: survey methods, design-based research, self-study, program evaluation, and community-based action research. I am super excited to embark on next steps now knowing that self-worth is not the same as self-confidence. To connect to my experiences with my ethnic identity, the opinions of others do not define my self-worth. I am a good person. I am Chinese. I am worthy.