Money for nothing and your chick’s for free

Here’s a FB post I  wrote two days ago after realizing something:

I’m giving myself a lot more permission to say no to people. I’m not giving my time the value it deserves. And people keep asking for things that others with my experience, education and talent are actually charging for. I keep getting asked for free legal advice and therapy sessions and resources and performance coaching and networking assistance and free writing and performing. And sometimes they want their jobs secretly done for them. They call it ‘help’ and they call it a ‘favor.’ They want to pay me in exposure and a ‘thank you.’

I don’t mind helping. It’s that some people are like that mouse who gets a cookie and asks for a glass of milk to go with it. It’s not people pleasing on my part…it’s me as an autistic person not understanding people’s true intentions. Because there are a lot of people who do want to take and take with no end in sight.

It’s hard for me to recognize bad patterns in other people because I don’t have a lot of malicious intent…I don’t understand when people are taking advantage because it wouldn’t occur to me to do it myself. But yes, these people do exist. They exist in Tucson and they exist in NYC.

I have to learn to say ‘no’ a whole lot sooner. I have to stand up for myself before I get to the point where I sound irrationally angry and everything spills out like word vomit and I look crazy. I’m really not crazy. I’m really rational. It just takes me a while to catch on.

There’s a saying in Spanish: mejor sola que mal acompañada (better to be alone than in bad company). I’m really fine with being alone. I have great times. And I have to start asking for what I’m worth and stop giving my time to people who don’t value it.

Here are the responses I got:

  • A relatively new, unfortunate, paradigm is where folks want good stuff for a thank you (and sometimes not even that‼️) This prevades the music business (no more middle or upper middle class in it, (get 3 million hits on a song, and get $600.00) to McDonald’s where a full time week of work needs government supplementation, or another job to subsist, it seeps into personal relationships as you’ve stated it so well.
  • Never be embarrassed to give them your rate for the work. “I’d love to do that for you. My rate is $XXX.” It’s not a “no.”
  • Yes I have the same thing. One week, my email and Facebook PM had FIVE requests from people re: publishing, writing, news media coverage. I would say that once per week there’s someone who asks for help or advice. And yes I’ve experienced the person who wanted to “pick my brain” because they had been hired to perform book publicity for the first time but had never worked in either PR or publishing. They wanted me to do their job. The best worst one was the person who asked my advice re: book publicity, wrote it down, wrote an article using my statements and got PAID for the article. Then they told me “thank you” and they couldn’t have done it without me.

I don’t mind helping people. In fact, it gives me a lot of joy to be able to share what I’ve learned with people. I’ve been doing it for literally years now. Ex, I posted about Stealth Dyslexia here and a lot of people from all over the world have come to my blog to read the post. What I’m realizing is that I have valuable expertise honed from experience and an incredible ability to collect information and synthesize it into new understanding. As a result of sharing what I know, people come to me all the time for help. People’s lives have been changed for the better because of what I have shared. I get told this regularly.

Great! I’m a trusted listener and a trusted resource. That fulfills me so very much. I’ve proven that my help has results. It has value–monetary value. I’ve started get paid for my writing and my opinions now. If people are willing to pay for what I know and for what I do, I’d be an idiot not to charge for it. I’m not just charging for the time it takes to help. I’m charging for the time it took to become an expert on the matters they’re asking help with. And if my help means money in their pockets, I’d be a fool not to ask for what I’m worth because they certainly don’t have any problem with it.

So why does this feel so uncomfortable? Because I am a woman and I’ve been conditioned to feel bad about asking for my worth. Any woman whose ever struggled with asking for her fair worth at a job knows what I’m talking about. Men just ask for what they’re worth and more. Totaled up, I’ve paid experts hundreds of thousands of dollars for their help (with the law, my health, my home, my pets, my money, my taxes) even when their expert opinions were dead wrong. Why should I value my time less than theirs?

It’s time to man up.


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