Unemployment: Does Our Work Define Us?

I was unemployed once before for almost 10 months back during the great recession and it was the absolute worst time of my life. I felt like I lost my identity and didn’t know who I was without a job. I never wanted to be in that depressive state again. However……

After being employed for eight consecutive years at a non-profit, I was laid off last month. It’s been an eye-opening experience to say the least. It feels like a relationship break-up, and it is really when I think of all the personal relationships that were being fostered everyday in which I no longer have easy access. I actually liked my job most of the time and actually liked going to work. It was a laid back culture, and I worked with a diverse group of people that kept everyday interesting. There were definitely bad days of course, but overall, I didn’t want to break-up. I’ve been trying to reconcile my feelings about this “break-up” and it has been emotionally painful.

Does our work define us? I would argue that it does not and we should not let it as a society.

A job does not define us. Society tries to make it define us, but we are not our job. If you work 40 hours per week, you spend only about a fourth of your week at work. If you work 60 hours per week, you spend about a third of your week at work. If you work more than that, you should ask yourself if it’s worth it. So 40 to 60 hours, you still have 3/4’s to 2/3’s left of your time for you, which is obviously the majority. Even if you are sleeping, you are still living and breathing, and you are not at work. Also, when you are at work, hopefully you are still being a human and interacting using your own personality, and being your true self that has nothing to do with work. So, I ask again, does our work define us? Stop allowing it to as a society.

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