5 key questions to survive work-related misconceptions that affect your self worth
Ever felt like you’re only as good as the job you have? Well, I know I have. And I know it’s not doing anything for my self-esteem, nor is it right in any way. So here’s a story of how not having a traditional job ended up filling me with insecurities, how I dealt with it, and what are the 5 questions we need to answer to detach my self worth from my work.
“I need to work to feel useful”, “I don’t have a job, so I’m not good enough”,
“I need to work to feel useful”, “I don’t have a job, so I’m not good enough”, or “my work doesn’t pay well, so there’s something wrong with my skills”; these sentences link work with self-worth and validation in a dangerous level.
Yes, we all need to work to live, do things and support ourselves or our loved ones, that’s for sure. But, there’s a thin line between needing to work and being less worthy when we don’t, and I feel this is a subject that it’s not spoken of enough.
So, I want to highlight three major misconceptions that most of us endure at some stage, some even go through all at the same time which makes us cross that thin line more times than we want to admit. And we need to start paying attention and act before it’s too late.
Personally, I went through both simultaneously, and It had me feeling like, yeah, exactly as if something was wrong with my abilities, drilling into my self worth until there wasn’t much self-esteem left. It doesn’t feel so great.
A “good job” it’s a 100% subjective phrase
Our first problem is understanding that this sentence can not possibly mean the same for everyone. Therefore, it’s key to speak about the differences existing in what we consider a good enough job or what success means and to start bringing to the table that there’s more than one correct line of thought in this matter.
Working applies to such a broad range of activities that it’s impossible to fit them all into one standard concept of “good job”. You and I probably do very different things, even you and your 5-years ago version also do two totally different jobs, and they’re all still considered work.
Regardless of what you do, none of those experiences is bad or a waste of your time. Because in every case, you’d have been learning something, you’d been acquiring soft or hard skills, and you’d have been gaining experience. All of which are priceless, no matter how much money you got from it or what credentials you needed to get there.
Looking at one type of work as good makes us believe that when we drift away from that main path, we’re doing something wrong. It makes us think that what we do it’s not good enough, which can harshly create so much unnecessary self-doubt.
Better doesn’t necessarily mean more money
This brings me to our second issue: some jobs will not make you rich in money, but they will bring you many riches in plenty of other ways. Highly related to our previous problem, success is way too often linked to money income in a way that a higher number has to mean more success and a better job.
I’m sure we all know someone or even ourselves have been in this mindset at some point in our lives, which it’s totally understandable given how society works. But not reaching the 5, 6 or 7 or whatever figure monthly income can simply not be considered bad, and it’s so unhealthy for everyone to rely on this numeric concept to feel good about our own work.
The problem here goes beyond society training us to follow a traditional line when it comes to building a career; it’s about how walking a different path is not given the appreciation and respect it deserves. Unfortunately, and sadly, this problem starts with us.
Having this perspective leaves aside everything about the story behind it, the in-between, the obstacles overcome, the circumstances, the learning process and, most of all, the happiness that may bring us.
I realized I don’t know who I am without a job and, apparently, one that involves a constant stream of money.
But Gabby, what about other kinds of rewards? Believe me, the rewards for my soul are there every day, and they’re amazing and beautiful, but somehow I don’t know how to believe in them as much as I should, so my own self-worth crumbles in a second.
As if I would put on a “proud veil”. A piece of fabric that says how proud I am of my own accomplishments, but at the slightest reminder that it’s not what I’m “supposed to be” doing, it simply falls off.
You’re not your job.
These 3 misconceptions are highly linked, but they can also appear separately and be just as damaging. Personally, this last one it’s the one that hits closer. Mainly because I thought I had the previous 2 under control already, but if there’s still a bit of doubt about those, everything can turn grey very quickly when this misconception kicks in.
The truth is that we are all very fascinating human beings with several complex features that make us who we are. Among a dozen other things, this involves our work, but it’s way more than that.
Unfortunately, it happens that we may put our work sphere so high up in our list that it tends to determine everything else in our lives.
I know most will already know this, but what happens when we have that mindset so deeply built into our subconscious? Then, if our work situation doesn’t fit in it, it ends us hitting us in more places than just our pockets.
And this is where the problem lies, really. Because work and anything else should start from the inside, from what our soul wants us to do. And from there, translate into everything else, not the other way around.
Down the hole and how to come back up
Well, I didn’t know how to do that; hence when work wasn’t at its peak, I was almost instantly unhappy.
This doesn’t mean that it was only a problem when I wasn’t working at this crazy famous place and swimming in money. No, not at all. It meant that sometimes I didn’t manage to work on something that I was passionate about or simply didn’t have a job, which somehow made me feel useless.
This scenario can trigger a domino effect that tackles everything else in our lives because we hold on to this false belief that our job situation has to reflect our value or intelligence.
Guess what? That’s not healthy and not true either.
How did it happen that my love for work and being a hard worker ended up becoming the same thing that brought me down? How, when it used to be the rock that I could always turn to, my perfect distraction and motivation.
Did it take for me to hit bottom to realize my priorities were all messed up? Maybe. But I knew something needed to change asap.
So, I shook myself awake. I could not keep relying on daily fruits and proof of success to feel that I was doing something right or good enough, so I turned it around.
I took my own advice. I told myself what I would tell my best friends when they needed to be reminded of how awesome they are; I took all “The Coach”‘s tips and stepped out for a bit to ask myself this:
5 questions that changed everything for me:
(and my answers)
What’s the best part of my 3 previous jobs?
(Connecting with people and socializing)
Do I do/have this in my current gig?
(Yes, I get to meet incredible people online and read their inspiring stories.)
Is there anything that I can not do?
(Not really. You have proven yourself to learn and find a way to be good at every new job you take on.)
Do I think I have improved or learned something useful in the last 2 years?
(Tremendously! You learned to manage a hostel and how to create and run a magazine.)
Would I be proud of it if it was someone else’s achievements?
(100% It sounds impressive and challenging when I look at it from outside.)
I needed to get to these 5 defining answers to remind myself that my worth it’s not linked to one job. So, I wrote them down and put them all up shiny and visible, so I will see them every time I doubt myself and when the “proud veil” falls off.
And most importantly, I also promised myself that I would look at them, even for 1 minute a day or as often as I needed it. Because I realized that if I’m as great as I think I am when I work, then I need to be as great as I am to pick myself right up when I need to.
So now, I want to ask you to answer these questions, too. For yourself. You’ll be surprised by your own answers.