What Kind of Beer?

by Becca Arrington

Sometimes, we can be our own worst enemy. What do I mean by that? Let me use what I know best to explain myself: a good movie.

One of my favorites is Almost Famous, a classic coming-of-age story that chronicles the journey of two teenagers accompanying a rock band on their tour. If you’ve never seen the movie, go watch it immediately. If you have, then you know what I’m talking about when I say Penny Lane has that effortlessly cool attitude people aspire to have. It is the type of personality that exudes so much confidence you can’t help but be jealous of a fictional character. From her crafty wardrobe to her taste in music, Penny Lane has it all. Or, so I thought. The more times I watch the movie the more I realize Penny Lane is just like us, her own worst enemy. Let me explain:

Penny Lane is in love with Russell Hammond, the guitarist. He has a wife but promises Penny he does in fact, love her too. Okay Russell, sure. But anyway, when Penny’s friend William tells her that he overheard Russell sell Penny to another band for, “50 bucks and a case of beer,” she responds with a quick smile and asks, “What kind of beer?”

“What kind of beer?”

A better way to phrase the question, and what Penny is really asking is, what exactly am I worth?

We are all guilty of these moments whether we realize it or not, letting other people’s actions or words define our own self-worth.  It may seem like others’ opinions of you define your value; but in actuality, it is your acceptance of their judgement that truly defines your worth. Eleanor Roosevelt said it best, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” It’s when we put merit to someone’s evaluations of ourselves that their words have power.

Everyone’s “what kind of beer” moments look different, but we all have them. For some it’s your dream internship sending you the rejection email and you believing you’re not good enough. Or, failing a test and thinking you’re stupid.  Maybe it’s having a boy break up with you and thinking of all the things you did wrong. Or even, believing in the gender roles set by society, and letting that determine your future.

So here I am to remind you that your worth doesn’t come from a job offer or a boy’s acceptance or even how good your grades are. These are just “types of beers” that really have no justification in the measurement of our value as human beings. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor insightfully said, “I do know one thing about me: I don’t measure myself by others’ expectations or let others define my worth.” Retweet Sonia. We become our own worst enemy when we allow these things to influence our worth.

The truth: it’s hard. It’s hard to take back the control and not let other opinions influence your perception of yourself.  But we know ourselves better than anyone else. So, the dare: use your confidence and actions to show the world that you know your worth.

Becca Arrington