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  • Writer's pictureJulia Gillis

How to Get Paid What You're Worth

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

Let's get one things straight - you can't.

A person cannot ever get paid what they are worth.

And I'll tell you why.

This has been a huge, vulnerable struggle of mine since university, probably even before that. Now being a Resiliency Coach and working with dozens of people on their self esteem, self worth, growth, progress, internal blocks, damage, toxic habits - I've been able to do my own work around this & help other people work through this mountain we build in front of ourselves.

The photo you see above is a from a modeling photoshoot when I was 20. I was in my first year of University for a Bachelor's of Interior Architecture. I was living off $1,000 a month from my parents with $500 of it going to rent a room in what was basically a female frat house in South Richmond, BC. The remaining $500 was barely enough to cover a monthly bus pass, personal care items, groceries & of course - drinking & smoking. My course load felt too heavy to get a part time job so I searched for one-off, odd-ball stuff in the 'Gigs' section of craigslist every other weekend.

I felt like call outs for attractive females were low commitment and easy money. I remember going to a casting to be a Coors Light event promo girl for a golf tournament. I was turned down at casting because I didn't show off my legs enough at the audition. I made the mistake of wearing heels with black business pants to make my legs look 'longer'. I was anorexic at the time - but still thought my legs looked short & thick because of the messaging I got from my mum on my body shape growing up. They could see right through my sham & my shame - I got called out for 'hiding' them.

The modeling shoot I did was with a guy who called himself Christian Bricks, operating with the business name Velvet Girls Photography (can't find him in a google search anywhere anymore.) He was offering something like $45-80 for a young woman to show up and pose for a 1 hour shoot. So I booked in with him. I did all the safety things, told multiple people where I was going, checked the address was a real place before I showed up, made sure someone was expecting my check in call after I was done. I was desperate - not dumb.

So here was the catch he didn't reveal until the end: If I wanted to get paid - I needed to sign a waiver that gave him rights to use the photos in advertising. That meant the photos you don't see here, where my nipples are showing, or I'm completely naked...could be used anywhere!

At the age of 20 I still had a HUGE amount of sexual shame I was raised with. What if my mom saw?! What if my Dad or brothers saw!? I was trying to complete university and get a job in a professional office! There was no way I could sign that release! I left with nothing but the promise of additions to a modeling portfolio that I would never use. The logic behind allowing the photos to be taken - but never released to the public - what a mind f*ck! (Photo below at age 20 - Velvet Girls shoot)

This was about 4 hours of my time. Physical grooming prep, packing outfits, travel time and shooting time. For nothing! My shame, trauma triggers, immaturity, safety needs to not be rejected or shunned by my family & what I felt was my integrity & self respect at the time - these were worth more to me. I needed these things to stay in my bank & my pocket. There was a cost, price, value & trade here that took me YEARS to unpack.

I have worked in a hilarious amount of jobs, starting at 12 years old. From Tim Hortons, to Canadian Tire, to a grocery store photo lab (when those still existed), waitressing, line cook, bowling alley, commercial cleaner to being a Design Studio Executive Assistant, Chef, International Seafood Sales & Marketing & now running my own business as a Holistic Health Coach.

Almost every job I applied for & got was to make more money than I was already making. A driving goal I have always had in life is to increase my wage, income or wealth. (Except for the bowling alley - that was just a random, fun side step after having my first kid. I'm obsessed with The Big Lebowski.)

So why was I able to keep making more?

Did I get paid more as time went on because of experience? Quality of my skillset? Was the job more complex? Was I better at advocating for a higher wage? Does my pay range increase with my age & time? Or is it just that minimum wage has more than doubled since I started working? Or maybe because I have accumulated more education credentials?

These are a lot of the expectations & questions I hear from clients struggling with 'what they are paid.' They want the answers to be 'about them.' They are doing a job - and angry about that job - because they aren't being paid what they feel THEY are worth.

What you are paid is not what YOU are worth.

What you are paid is what the JOB you are doing is worth.

I hear these 2 comments most often: "I'm worth more than this!" or "I'm not being paid enough." (Also spoken as: I have a higher skillset than this pay acknowledges!)

Let's get something straight - you are not being paid what you or your skillset is worth.

You are being paid what the job you are completing is worth.

(Photo Below taken at age 28.)

If you have training as a graphic designer, but took multiple years off to raise 3 children, then felt the need to take a job stocking grocery shelves to have schedule flexibility for your family & get paid just over minimum wage - don't complain that you're not being 'paid enough.' Stocking shelves requires little more than 2 hands & a heart beat.

If you have an extensive background in one profession that you lost interest in, have decided to build an independent business out of a passion-project side-hustle but have also taken work as a server to make ends meet, even though you hate it - don't be pissed that serving feels like chump change.

If you're running your own business & creating your own rates but don't feel like you're making 'enough' or that people wont pay what 'you are worth' - you need to change that idea & language. They aren't paying for YOU - they are paying for the service you are providing, which has an industry standard range. You might be in the novice range or expert range (which will determine your reputation & quality of clients you have access to and what you can charge - which influences what you will be paid - again, not your worth.)

You can't even argue that your 'time' is worth a certain amount. Some days we show up for work and offer wizard level - some times we show up and half ass it. What about your 1 hour in front of the TV vs the 1 hour you spent at work as a nurse in palliative care comforting someone dying vs the 1 hour you spent learning to shuffle dance with your 11 year old? Is all of your time, in each of those scenarios worth the same? Yes & no. The value & cost of each is different - but an objective price tag cannot be made. (Photo below taken at age 33.)

Understanding this concept can help you get over the pathetic blame game many of us play. We want it to be someone or something else's fault that we aren't making the money we want...or that we don't 'feel of value.'

Which is the bullshit concept. We want the money we are being paid for the work we do to signify or equate our value as a human. This will never happen. Your worth is not, and cannot be determined by your wage, cheque, income or the value of the services your provide.

If you change HOW you think about money it can unlock a huge amount of limiting self beliefs, blocks & f*ck-ups you keep making that cause you to feel under appreciated ...or poor. Find what makes you feel 'of value' or 'of service' & you will find a greater sense of financial abundance as a outcome. It's relative.

Also - if you LOVE the work you do - you will be at peace with what people are paying for that service. We never feel we are paid 'enough' for work we don't like.

If you would like to start building your Core Resiliency Skills contact Coach Julia today. You will learn how to Thrive beyond your damage, become a Transitional Character, break abuse cycles in your family cycle & build the core resiliency skills most often missed when being raised in a low nurture environment.

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