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Value Alignment

Jamieson Van Loan

I recently read an article that spoke about the values that we hold and whether or not those values are actually indicative of our behavior. This, of course, got me thinking about my own values versus my idealized version of myself. Coming to the conclusion that, in fact, my value system and my actions are not always aligned. 

Like for one- I (obviously) value our planet and realize she’s the only one we have- but what am I doing every day to facilitate a cleaner, healthier planet? Answer: not much! I recycle, I try to use less plastic products, but that isn’t being very proactive about something I feel passionate about. So do I truly value it? Or is it an idealized value? Answer: yep, its an ideal value but not reality.

We like to think of ourselves as awesome, do-gooding, kind humans. We are all treating people fairly and spreading love and kindness like it’s freakin’ nutella but are the principles that we hold in high regard, actually the way we are showing up to the world? 

One great example, which we all do, (I am super guilty of this) is saying we value our time with our loved ones- HUGE but here- BUT when we are with them, we are on our cell phones. So do we value them or our cell phones? What is so much more important on your phone than the human sitting across from you? 

And I hear your side of the argument- but work, but my kids' school, but my doctor, but social media, but I gotta answer this email- whatever it is, I hear you. I am the queen of using my phone in front of others (insert barf emoji). The question is, what does this habit say about your values? Is it saying that what is on your phone is more important than the person across from you? Even though this is not black and white, I am going to have to say that if you're using your phone in front of someone else, whatever is occupying your precious attention is very blatantly more important than the person you've chosen to spend your time with. It made me realize that I do value my phone (read: work) over others and it needs to change. 

For me, this calls into question a lot of my prior values. If I died tomorrow, what would people say about me? And I mean the honest people, not the "oh she was so lovely" people. This value concept grew into what sort of legacy do I want to leave on this world.  I do not mean in a grand way but in the soft and subtle way, how do I want to be remembered? What values do I want people to remember me by?

Here lies Jamieson, she was....and here is the best part, I get to be the person driving home this narrative because my actions speak for who I am. I want to be remembered as the person who always showed up for you. The person who you could call at any point and I would be there for you. The person who hugged you when you needed it but couldn't ask for it. The person who cheered you on when you weren't sure you could succeed. The person who listened when you needed to vent. The person who pushed you outside of your comfort zone so you could grow. The person who brought you soup when you were sick. The person who reached out when you felt lonely. The person you could share your secrets with.  The person who you could dance and be silly with. The person who made you feel on top of the world. The person you could laugh with until you cried. The person who you could be your authentic self with, without judgment. I realized I do not need to be the person who saves the planet, as much as I idealistically value that. I value how much I can give to this world in a positive manner and how happy and secure I can make people around me feel. 

I have to say that I cannot stand mixed messages. If you say one thing but act another way- it drives me nutso! At this point in our lives, and the way the world is headed, be authentic with your voice and actions. It is so easy for people to defend their actions, especially when it doesn't align with what they said a week ago, but to me it is cowardly. Own what you say and follow through. The end. So for me to have such a vigorous stance for others, it is only right to kick my own ass the same way. This entire article has gotten me to reevaluate what I hold near and dear and how I can prove to the world my true values through actions. It has opened my mind up to being a-ok with not truly valuing what is socially expected of me, i.e marriage. Sorry, not interested. Moving on. It has made me hyper aware of my perceived values versus what I actually exhibit to the world. Overall, this article was a game-changer for me. 

Intrinsically, I want to be a kind and loving human. But I am not always that. From this moment on though, I hope I can dissolve the disconnect between what I truly value and my values of grandeur. My goal is to truly align my values within me and expose them outwardly. If one of my fundamental values is to be the best version of myself as possible, how can I substantiate that to the universe?

Ask yourself this, what are my values based on my behavior? What are the values I would prefer to exhibit? And then do your best to make the divide between them dissolve. It is certainly not without challenge, but it is a clear path towards growth.