Portia is a silent giant, she is published and extremely talented photographer.  Check out her work here!  I am glad this amazing woman is my friend and agreed to share her lessons from 2017. Thank you, Portia!

“You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop and what you reinforce”- Tony A. Gaskins Jr.

Value, merit, worth, usefulness, helpfulness, desirability. These are some of the words used to describe how one’s relationship with another can be perceived. These words can also dictate the interaction between both parties, whether the interaction is professional or personal.


I’ve posed the following questions to myself far too many times- am I valuable to the other person and do they perceive me as being worthy of their time. Do I value myself? Am I comfortable enough, confident enough and sure enough of myself to let it be known? Am I okay with walking away from potentially harmful situations and relationships, as difficult and challenging as it may be?


It’s hard to walk away sometimes, I know this very well. It becomes exceedingly difficult to walk away when there are daily responsibilities to be met, career progressions to be made and personal development and fulfilment to be achieved. It’s hard to walk away sometimes when invisible blinders don’t allow you to see other doors. It’s hard to walk away sometimes when you’re unsure where to walk to next. But then I’d ask myself if the situation I’m currently in warrants the stress, the tears and the anxiety? How about the countless sleepless nights or those moments when I look at the computer screen and want to throw it out the window? Are these relationships worth the many visits to the doctor’s office? Is it worth it?


A particular experience I had a few months ago led me to put my foot down. Looking back, I now realise it was me who set the tone, who initially dictated the terms of this engagement. I offered my services for free; the reason I gave and told myself at the time was that I’m still trying to learn the lay of the land. I was willing to pay for the resources needed to do all this work for them. As time passed, their demands increased and my willingness to continue working for them solidified their perception of me: I can deliver the goods cheaply. When I brought up the conversation of compensation and just simple transport money for me to travel to them, the tone of the conversation changed.


So many people are undervalued and taken advantage of: “You just click a camera”, “put words into sentences”, “stitch materials together”, “turn 0’s and 1’s into longer paragraphs of the same 0’s and 1’s”, “mix ingredients in a pot and pour them on a plate”, “string up a tune and scream into a microphone”. What could be so difficult about doing any of that?

I made a mistake and I’m not afraid of owning up to it. Allowing myself to work for free meant that I set the expectations that an organisation will have when interacting with others in the same field. This undervalues the profession as a whole. This is not good. So I walked away. As difficult as it was, I walked away.

There are so many of us with similar stories; professional or personal. Let’s have the courage to walk away from that which takes away from us, close the door and take a step towards to a more positive direction.