I was asked a big question the other day. I was asked about the values I hold and where have I utilised these values in a real world situation. And this should be easy, yes?
What are my values? What do I use to direct my path in life? Do I use these professionally or are my values in my personal life different to my professional? Is this really such a difficult question?
In a way this was really difficult to answer in a way that would reflect me as a person. I stumbled around it in class and I wasn’t quite sure at the time why it was so hard for me to answer. My values are like most people I know in my life.
Honesty. Fairness. Compassion. Respect.
To narrow a specific example of these values being at the forefront of my decisions in life is really difficult to me on the spot. I try to be honest in everything I do. I value fairness for everyone and myself, which I feel is why I am so passionate about ending inequality (Vote Yes). I am compassionate and empathetic and I can’t deal when someone else isn’t. I respect the people around me, when they respect me as well it’s even better. I know that one doesn’t always just deserve respect; you might have to earn it, but I try and respect those around me in my personal life and at work or Uni.
In the theme of ‘absent but implicit’, I know that each of these values mean something because of past experiences and past decisions that I have made consciously or subconsciously with these values in mind.
The values have shaped my life through different ways. Connecting the dots I can see why these values are important to me in all aspects of my life. Thinking back on experiences with past lovers can highlight the value of honesty within myself. But telling a room full of strangers of your past transgressions or hurts that made you learn and grow as a person isn’t the easiest thing.
I can connect the dots with experiences of parents and honesty. Being honest with yourself and your family that Uni wasn’t for you at that time, and that you needed the help in your head more than you needed a degree. Learning that you, as an adult, are no longer under the same expectations as a teenager and it’s ok to not want to do something but not have to lie about it. It’s about being honest in a workplace and with yourself and realising that you absolutely do not have to put up with the abuse and intimidation and leaving. All of these steps are active dots in the path of my life, and all revolve around this one value – Honesty.
Honesty isn’t the only value I have come to realise that I use in my personal and professional life. Compassion is missing from the world and I feel this is a sign of a lack of care and acknowledgement that other people have lives and loves and priorities. It is from my own observations that I think that the root of this is that some people are so caught up in their own lives, thoughts and rules that they have forgotten that that person working with them, living next to them, serving them in the shops or teaching them are all people with their own lives and problems. I’m reminded on this train of thought of a word I came across years ago online.
n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.
The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows
Perhaps if a few more people had this realisation, and could acknowledge that others around them are going through issues and break ups and family problems and cancer and mental illnesses… maybe the world would be a bit more compassionate? I value the way a compassionate boss won’t fire someone because they need the day off to take care of their mental health. I value the teacher who actually listens to a student’s problems that are affecting their work. I value the compassion afforded to those who are ill, whether be an invisible illness or physical.
And as the exercise that I participated in revealed, these values retold and remembered can help work out that what’s below the surface of the problem reveals the underlying way one might choose to live and work by. It is important to sit back and understand what rules your decisions, and why you should listen to your gut feelings in some instances. The values you hold that are important to you are the ones you will find have always guided your decisions and path.