The things nobody shares or talks about unless you ask.
Adding value is a term that is used in a business sense to describe how your product or service (including your own self) increases the likelihood that someone will return to you to provide a service or buy your product (or work with you). Adding value, for me, is more than a business term. It is about valuing your own sense of self and well-being. I am consistently thinking about ways that I can add value in my own life, including in a personal way. When I am being asked to contribute or support projects, I always ask two questions: Where do sex workers fit in this project and how do you support sex workers? If a project is not thinking about these two questions, I don’t work on a project or with those people. I do not mean this in a rude way. Rather, I just know that it will take more energy for me to even be in that space and it is likely a project that takes away value from other things that I could be doing, like supporting projects that support sex workers. This is just one example.
As a recently called lawyer, I have been working in-house since being called to the bar in June 2018. Being called to the bar is a way to describe that I have met all the requirements in order to practice law in Ontario. I am new to the practice of law but I am not new to discussing law. For context, I have been writing about law and its impacts on Indigenous communities, particularly Indigenous women and girls, for over a decade. My work in supporting Indigenous communities, especially those criminalized, began in high school.
As part of my journey to this space/place, I would like to share some of the things I learned about becoming a lawyer as a recently called lawyer including from surviving law school, working on internships and in the community to completing articles. With that being said, I decided to write a monthly post about how you can add value in your own life. I want to share some of the things I learned along the way as a first-generation lawyer with a non-conventional pathway to law, and I hope that this space will serve as a tool for others to take and add value in their own life. Personally, I am actually quite shy and I used to have a hard time asking questions or for help and I sometimes still grow anxious over certain things. I know that a lot of others, including other people from marginalized groups, are like past me. I got you though!
My own personal goal is to acknowledge the narratives about current advice to young lawyers are not actually helpful in today's reality. For example, advice to clean our social media is not helpful because no, we do not want to “clean” our social media. Can we also talk about how problematic it is to tell someone, especially Indigenous and racialized people, to “clean” their social media when it is often these communities who are using social media to create social change?! Further, I want to acknowledge in this space that self-care narratives do not interrogate systemic and institutional barriers that impact Indigenous people, especially Indigenous women and girls. In case we all missed the memo, bubble baths, mindfulness or manis/pedis will not end racism and gender-based violence (you can buy me a coffee here for that tidbit of information)!
In the end, I know that the term “adding value” is super capitalistic and I understand that our capitalistic structures are super exploitative. However, I use this term “adding value” to re-centre my own values, not just money value, in these conversations because really, if you do not support sex workers, then you probably are not the right fit for me—yes, I am totally reclaiming the word “fit”.
And, with being the lawyer that I am but not your lawyer, this series does not represent the views of my employer and this is most certainly not legal advice (only your own lawyer can give you legal advice).
You can view the first post here.