After all my work she gave me $20

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Dear Amy: I like to please people by volunteering at a non-profit organization that helps Afghan refugee women. We provide fabric and a space with sewing machines where they can come to work. Lately these women are making items they can sell.

Recently, “Kara” contacted us and asked us to make a copy of a dress she had. She told me that if we figured out how to make it, we could let Afghan women make it and sell it. She provided fabric for the copy.

I spent six hours trying to figure out how to make the item and documenting it with photos and instructions. So I made a sample.

I used to be a professional seamstress, but I also have a soft touch. I never charge as much as the work is worth.

In this case, I intended to ask Kara to make a donation to the charity so we could buy more fabric. A hundred dollars didn’t seem exaggerated.

Turns out Kara loved what I did and wore the sample out of the door.

I gave her the instructions and model parts, and she gave me $20 to donate to the charity.

She also told me that she and a friend could make these dresses and sell them. (I told her I didn’t think the project would work for Afghan women.)

After she left I felt used so I called her and told her she needs to pay me for my time if I want to sell this dress design at a profit.

However, now I feel guilty! I hate myself for calling her.

Was I wrong to call her? Or am I wrong to feel guilty?

in Points

Dear In Stitches: People often ask if they are “wrong” for feeling a particular way. And my answer is always the same: your feelings are your feelings. They are neither right nor wrong. They just are.

Your job is to let your feelings guide you to understanding and (possibly) change.

Your initial choices prevented you – and the organization you support – from receiving justified compensation.

I suggest that his chronic undercharging is more a reflection of his confidence in the value of his work than his desire to please.

#work #gave


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