You are not your job

You are not your job.

I need you to understand this at a wholly internalized level.

Your value is not derived from the change in estimation of your company’s dividend.

It is not decided by a committee of leaders who estimate which resources to cut.

They are deciding something, but it is not your value.

Your value is derived from the fact that you are here, you are one of us. If you love no one, if no one loves you, if you are alone in a cave on a hill, you still have enormous value to the rest of us.

“No man is an island entire of itself,” John Donne wrote in 1624. “Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

The world demands you add value, screams it over the internet, demands of you attention and content and HUSTLE. And how dare you have a hobby you do not monetize? How dare you have emotions you do not broadcast? HOW DARE?

No one is an island unto themselves. But no one has the right to demand you perform for them. Your value is not derived from your output.

When you become unable to work, you will struggle with this.  We all struggle with this. Some of us stop working due to burnout (which is a form of PTSD). Some of us stop working due to layoffs or other job losses. Some of us stop working because our bodies just can’t do it anymore. Some of us end up going back to work and some of us don’t.

And the world will say “you are not contributing so you are worthless” and the world is greedy and short sighted and wrong.

Look, you are a bunch of formerly single cell organisms that millions of years ago  thought it would be a good idea to form a collective so that it was harder for other single cell organisms to munch on them. You are a conglomeration of highly complex systems that decided bananas are a pretty good food source. Your ancestors had value all the way back when the first mitochondria formed and you have millions of times more value today.

You are the only you we will ever get. There is no other you. You are not hot-swappable for a backup.

You are not your job. You are not what you produce. You are exactly who you need to be, and we will never get another one of you.

Be safe. We love you.

Author: Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson is a Senior Staff Product Designer and General Troublemaker working on design systems from outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She's an editor and writer at The Interconnected. She is also published at A List Apart and The Pastry Box, and publishes short fiction when she's not persuading the terriers to stop wrecking things. (The terriers are winning.)