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You Are Not Your Job

Your identity isn’t tied to your job. It’s not your fault for getting wrapped up in the narrative. It’s a conversation starter at parties. The question a medical professional asks you to assess how you spent 40+ hours during the week. The question that guides your educational choices when you are 17 years old. They are all centered around the same theme. “What do you do for work?”

So when you suddenly lose it, not only is it a gut punch to your self-worth, but you lose sight of who you are. What do you say at parties now? That you’re unemployed. That you were wronged. That your life is currently on pause while you find the anchor to your identity again.

The prehistoric notion of work never defined us as people. We did the work required to feed our community and keep everyone safe. We spent free time forming relationships and celebrating life. Your job is a way to bring food to the table, to provide for shelter and to allow thriving.

I used to worry whether my routines and my hobbies would suddenly collapse if I were to lose my job. The worry of job loss has been ever present since unexpected meetings with HR and your manager started regularly popping up on people’s calendars. Then it happened to me and I still carried on, being me. Work is designed around other people who provide you validation. Your job is where you spend 40 hours a week, it’s where you expel the majority of your brain power. It was a place where you were sizing up the corporate ladder, planning out your performance review, your bid for a promotion. A way to elevate your self-worth through the lens of an organization run by other people. For most of us it’s the only place where our efforts are measured and validated. But you are loved by others outside that nameless organization you’ll forget about shortly. You’ll find your next job very quickly, that’s how the economy works. You have skills that another company requires to make money. That’s all that is, your skills and whether you’re pleasant enough to be around.

So don’t tie your self of sense to company X that hired you to be a cog in their machine to raise capital. You’re way more than that. You’re an interesting person with experiences that are unique to you. I cannot wait to meet you at that party and ask you, “What’s your favorite colour?”. In the grand scheme of things, empty questions don’t matter. It’s the root of the conversation that we're all after.

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