Let’s say you are at a social function and you meet someone new. This person interests you. After you shake hands, exchange names and introductory pleasantries, there is a 99.9% probability that this question will be asked: “What do you do for a living?”
“What do you do for a living?” perfectly encapsulates the mindset of our modern Western society. Essentially, the value of a human being is articulated in economic terms. A person can be “sized up” in mere seconds using the estimated salary of their chosen profession. There are separate calculations for entrepreneurs. And then there are the artists and philosophers with their enlightened artwork, writing, and music; where do they fit in?
There is a real danger that “net worth” can become intimately intertwined with “self worth”. Unemployed? Retired? Volunteer? Stay-at-home parent? I am always amazed when someone says they are “just” a stay-at-home caregiver, when they are involved in the most honourable and sacred profession there is: taking care of the young, elderly or vulnerable. There is no pay cheque involved yet their value is far beyond measure.
Since my 2011 accident, I have struggled with my own self worth and value. Sure, I can say that, pre-accident, I had healthy self-esteem and truly valued myself. Yet, trauma is such a wounding process that it digs deep, deep into the core of your inner being. I do not always like what it wants to bring to the surface of my consciousness; however, I try to allow the process for I know that’s where the power of redefinition arises from.
The truth is that the collision with that tractor-trailer truck dragged me kicking and screaming out of my meticulously created professional world. So, since then, I have often asked myself the following: If I am not actively engaged in my profession of choice, what is my value?
The answer came yesterday in the words of a rabbi, a strong, intelligent, compassionate female. She said, instead of asking, “What do you do for a living?”, ask “What do you do for a life?”
Her words are simple yet incredibly profound. “What do you do for a life?” transcends all definitions based on your profession, role, title, economic value, etc. So, dear friend, who are you? What do YOU do for a life? What is your value?
I value myself enough to…
- Ask for what I need
- Trust my words and feelings
- Have the courage to question my thought patterns and habitual ways of “doing life”
- Let go and keep letting go of what no longer makes sense for me
- Forgive, keep forgiving and forgive some more for my personal worth exceeds any challenging person or circumstance or mindset
- Respect my pains, my fears and shadow side for without the darkness I would not know the light
- Be grateful for the human being that I am
For, in spite of the ups and downs, the hopes and the fears,
I AM STILL HERE, still alive, still me, and this is the greatest treasure of all.
Photo & Artwork Credits: Thank you to Nora Serna and Lisa Sharpe.