When I was growing up, I rarely cried. I could stay dry-eyed through a sad story, a funeral, or a dog movie, which earned me my family nickname, “The Rock,” years before Duane Johnson made that moniker famous. There was one thing that made me cry, though. Math. I remember tears dripping down on the pages of my algebra book, even as my accountant father tried to encourage me that I was smart and could do it.
As I reflect on the power my math homework had to make me cry when few other things could, I believe the root emotion I felt in those moments was unworthiness. My sense of value was linked to my competence. And when I felt incompetent, well, I cried.
Searching for worth
These days I’m far removed from mathematical woes, but other things can make me feel unworthy. A number on the scale. Not being invited or included by others. Social media posts celebrating the successes of others (successes I will likely never experience). While I’m competent in many things, it’s…