Career, Love

Your Employment Status Does Not Define You

Phoenix, AZ (2017)

During this time of economic instability and rising unemployment, I see many of my friends, acquaintances, and connections getting laid off, taking mandated furloughs, or receiving pay cuts.

So I just wanted to leave this here: Your employment status does not define you, and your salary does not equal your value.

Here it is again: Your personal, intrinsic worth is not tied to your job title, your employment status, the college degree you have (or don’t), and your bank account balance.

What does define you? A willingness to embrace change and adapt. Generosity of time, heart and spirit. Persistence and determination; work ethic. A desire for personal growth and betterment. Humility. Appreciation for the gifts you do have in life. 

👉👉 Jobs. Are. Temporary! 👈👈

I’ve been laid off. Twice. I was a casualty of the 2008-2009 recession, and the layoff opened a door for me I never expected. I moved cross-country from Minnesota to Arizona and never looked back. Later in my career, I was another casualty during a massive reduction in workforce. Out of work for nearly five months, I went on a 4-week trip to Europe, and later, Ecuador. I poured myself into my blog and YouTube channel and the rest is history.

At first, I felt a lot of shame for being unemployed. I felt like a failure. Like it or not, there’s a stigma; that it must have something to do with your performance or an assumption your work wasn’t important. Despite knowing that employers can lay people off for nothing more than $$… self-doubt is notoriously illogical.

Prague was one of the cities I stopped in during my post-layoff 4-week trip to Europe in 2017. There, during a walk to the Petrin Tower, I met a fellow traveler a little older than me named Aernout. Aernout lived with his parents. Like me, he traveled on the cheap, and was not traditionally “employed.” But if you thought he was a slacker, or judged him on these facts, you’d be seriously off-base. An incredibly smart, driven, and hard-working entrepreneur, Aernout poured himself into work that fulfilled him and earned respect. And he did it without taking a salary. 

Lesson: The resume and the bank account do not make the person. Let’s not judge ourselves, or others, on that.

Another case in point: While working my first “professional” job out of college, I had to get a part-time job; this digital news producer working the evening newscasts spent her mornings manning the smoothie counter at Lifetime Fitness. Years and another few jobs later, I started booking alcohol promotions and samplings on the weekends for a couple extra hundred bucks a month. Even now, I have sporadic bartending gigs and my own home rental side hustle — perhaps a little unorthodox, but income nonetheless!

Whether you’re in between gigs… re-assessing… volunteering… throwing yourself into an unpaid passion project… side-hustling… taking on part-time work… it doesn’t matter. Your qualities and attitude make up who you are, not your employment status.

And who you are is what good employers and good partners/potential partners are most interested in… myself included.

Enjoyed this blog? Feel free to reach out and let me know, or share this blog with a friend!

2 thoughts on “Your Employment Status Does Not Define You”

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