Money can be an uncomfortable topic for lots of us. Many of my clients will start any salary discussion with a vague apology: “It’s not really about the money, but….” I think this often stems for a vague sense that they’re either not worth a big salary or that earning a lot of money will somehow turn them into bad people.
I promise that neither of these is true.
First of all, you absolutely have wonderful and unique skills that set you apart from everyone else. Your task is to identify them. This is, of course, one of those things that’s much easier said than done, but you can start by reflecting on what people have told you. (The nice things, not the mean ones!) Think especially hard about the people who matter most to you. Does your best friend say you’re always there for her? Then you’re an excellent listener! Did your last boss say you were funny? Then you have a sense of humor that can make everyone feel better! Many of the so-called hard skills on your resume are things that a lot of people have—software, for instance, or experience with budgets. So think about the “soft” skills or anything you’re especially proud of in your experience. For instance, I spent several years living and working in Japan after college, and that has given me a lot of cultural sensitivity, a strong sense of my own adaptability, and a ton of creative communication skills. I was also the go-to person for speaking gigs in my last job because I was comfortable in front of an audience and could convey my points well. So reflect a bit on your life and see what you can come up with!
As to money making you into a terrible person, I understand that, and I know it’s not true. If what comes to mind is billionaires going to space or buying stupidly expensive yachts, remember that Oprah builds schools and Melinda Gates funds such projects as malaria treatment research. The guys who are all flash and dazzle didn’t start off as kind souls and become self-involved overnight. Some were born into wealth and never taught compassion, and some are just jerks who don’t care about doing anything of substantive value, but their flaws aren’t from the money. It’s just that the money amplifies the flaws so we can all see them for the narcissists they are. If you made lots of money, you would still be you, and you would use that money for things you care about. Sure, there would be some stuff you’d do that would be personally important (Italy isn’t going to visit itself!) or very focused on your own needs. But after you repaired your roof and paid off your credit cards, you would do the things you’ve always wanted to be able to do. Most of us won’t have the funds to mitigate global crises, but we can absolutely do things that matter to us.
So don’t be afraid of being valuable. You have many gifts to offer the world! You deserve to get paid for them.