I was on the phone with a dear friend, when the subject of where we find our self-worth came up. She had mentioned a friend who finds his full self-worth in how awesome his wife is. We all know people who find their worth in their job, in having the coolest clothes, the biggest house, the fanciest cars. Then there are those who are anti-possessions and find their self-worth in leaving the smallest carbon footprint, eating only organic-homegrown food, or making their own homespun clothes. A few people manage to find their worth from the wellspring within them, but this isn’t about them.
The analogy we came up with, and no we weren’t drunk when we did this, was bedsheets and quilts.
A bed sheet is always a bed sheet; except for those rare occasions when it becomes a Halloween costume or Toga. But that’s only a flat sheet, a fitted sheet is one note – it’s shaped to the bed, sized to the bed, and can’t do anything but be a sheet. If you spill something on a sheet it stands out and is obvious. But that’s all it is – just a bedsheet that everyone uses; but rarely thinks of more than that thing that they have to tuck in every day and kick off every night.
People who find their self worth in one thing, one person, one goal, are like a bed sheet. They’ve become defined by that one thing – take it away or mess it up and they are lost – they don’t know who they are or what to do. A fitted sheet without a bed, is just a mess – you can’t fold it nicely without some serious origami skills, and you can’t do anything else with it. A person who’s source of self worth is their job without a job is a mess – they don’t know what to do with themselves or how to be themselves anymore. They become one flat note. Even when they have their job, their girlfriend, their car – it’s all they talk about. They want you to notice how great they are…at being a bedsheet.
Quilts on the other hand, are very complex. They can be scrap work quilts that sew a lifetime of memories into a warming blanket. They can be heirlooms in the family for generations. They can be art pieces, bed warmers, picnic blankets, tents. A stain on a quilt adds to the character and becomes part of the story.
A person who finds their self worth both within themselves and therefore as part of their identity across many fields, is like a quilt. Take away any one thing and they are still themselves, still grounded. A quilt without a bed can still be anything that it could be with the bed. A person who finds their self-worth from within can lose their job and still know who they are.They aren’t just a teacher, a mother, a wife, a husband, a blogger, a friend, or a child – they are all of those and somehow still more. Take away any one part and they have the others to fall back on; take away all of the parts, and they still bear witness to themselves.
Which are you – a bed sheet or a quilt?