Being Valued at Work


I’ve never called out of work.

Knock on wood. And I hope I never really have to.

I’ve mentioned before that I just don’t like calling out because I hate leaving my school in the lurch, especially with so many students coming and going. I also don’t want to leave our already over-worked Japanese staff in a position where they have to cover for any of the mistakes that I’ve done.

I’m not sure if this is me feeling valued or me being taken advantaged of at work. I don’t feel like the company is taking advantage of me, though. I just feel like I have responsibilities at work and that’s what being a teacher is all about.

I’ve been working at my company for ten years now. In the beginning, it was hard to feel like I was being valued for my work. However, since I’ve been there so long now, I’ve become a permanent fixture. I don’t know whether that’s good or bad, but I know that every time I hear a parent say, “Oh thank God, it’s Rochelle!” when they find out that I will be teaching their kids for the new school year, I feel happy.

I get praised rarely for the work that I do, and most often, the people high up don’t really tell that directly to my face. Instead, I feel my value in the hugs and the words that my students tell me. When I hear my students say that today’s class was fun, I feel very proud of the work that I’ve done. Every “Rochelle-sensei daisuki!”  fills me with joy.

three toddler eating on white table
Photo by Naomi Shi on

Sometimes, the parents, too, make me feel like I’m doing a good job when they tell me that their kids love coming to class and look forward to seeing me. In this sense, I feel my worth as a teacher. I feel valued by my students and their parents. It’s not the company that makes me feel valued, it is the validation from my students.

I am very grateful that I have this because it is the reason why I get up in the morning. Each lesson, I feel the challenge of how to make my classes fun so that the students always enjoy coming to class. If they leave happy and smiling, then it’s a way I measure my success. I love that about my job.

In talking to friends and family, though, I realize that many people don’t have this at work. I feel sorry for them–work is just work and it never becomes fun. If nobody values you or makes you feel validated at work, it makes going to work dreadful. Nobody listens to you and nobody appreciates the effort that you do. I can see why people dread getting up on Mondays to start the work week. Why bother going in and put in any effort if nobody will notice?

But at the same time, how important is it to get social validation? Is it really necessary to have someone see that you’re doing a good job and be praised for it? Or is it better to believe in yourself and believe that you’re good enough? You don’t need anyone to tell you that you matter. If, in your inner core you believe in your own worth, you won’t need external validation, right?

I don’t know.

Because a lot of us spend most of our time working, the social validation we get is through our peers. But if our peers and our bosses don’t see the value in our work, we become less motivated to work and we end up quitting our current jobs to find places where we can make a difference.

person doing thumbs up
Photo by Donald Tong on

Don’t get me wrong, my job is not perfect, but I do get a sense of satisfaction when I see my student speaking English–all on their own. I live for those moments, no matter how scant they may be. I feel my value and my job as an English teacher is worthwhile. This might be the real reason why I don’t want to quit my job, even though I’ve been saying that I want to start working in a new field all the time.

I like to think that I’m strong enough to believe that I matter, that I don’t need external validation to feel happy, but maybe that’s a lie? After all, I feel really happy when my kids are learning. But that’s because of the effort that I put into my lessons, isn’t it?

That’s all me, right?

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