You are not your job.
You are not your job. Your job is not your worth.
I am not the first person to say something like this. The first person was likely some Entrepremaker and Doer named Chad or a Content Rockstar Ninja Guru that has a soul patch and a kitesurfing avatar. But, I believe this concept to be really true — whether you’re a Fortune 500 CEO or someone with two part-time jobs living paycheck to paycheck.
You. Your mind. Your unique perspective of orienting yourself to the world. Your singular set of experiences, positive and negative. Your specific set of neurons and flesh and blood and toenails and teeth. The way your breath smells and your shit stinks. The first thought you ever had. The pain, the loss, the grief, the unholy mountain of obstacles you’ve faced. The opportunities you’ve seized and squandered. The people you’ve met. The hustles you’ve hustled. On and on and on and on. This is you. This is your worth.
Your job? That’s something else. That’s, most likely, someone else’s vision. Someone else’s purpose. Someone else’s stinking turds and hangnails. Someone else’s best-decision-they-ever-made. Someone else’s hard decisions. Don’t have a job? That’s not you either. Don’t have insurance? That’s also not you. These situations will, no doubt, encompass that list of experiences that are you, just be wary of people that try to conflate where you draw a check (or don’t) with your role in the tapestry of humanity.
If you do listen to those people, you will be reduced to a pile of paranoia, fear, heartburn, sleepless nights and foggy-headed compromises that create little rips in your self esteem. You will wake up one day and realize you categorically cannot remember why you matter. You will literally be unable to list off the reasons why you deserve to succeed. Not only will you not thrive, but you will stagnate. Glimmers of the real you will atrophy. You will have traded the idea of security for the very real existence of you.
I will state plainly that I write these words from a place of privilege. I am writing from the comfort of a house with air conditioning on a MacBook Pro. I just ate a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, not because I had to, but because I routinely make poor choices and, perhaps, I had the Blue Box Blues. I have insurance and a 401(k) and nobody is making me get married, have a baby or find a new job. I have worked hard my whole life (and grew up a proud, scrappy trailer rat), but I’ve still had help. I look a certain way and I talk a certain way. None of those factors are lost on me.
While I’m incredibly grateful for my opportunities, I do have to remember that there is more to me often and, I figure, you might need to hear that too.
So, if you’re the type of person that desperately seeks out affirmations from people that freely admit to eating boxed mac & cheese despite their new-found, suffocating privilege, here ya go: I can’t promise that we’ll always be ok. I can promise that I will still be me, you will still be you and that’s actually worth a whole helluva lot.