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!

4 thoughts on “Your Employment Status Does Not Define You

  1. I’ve been laid off twice as well. This time it’s been easier mentally because I know it had nothing to do with me. Where I struggle is maintaining connections with coworkers who still had their jobs and I admit, I shut many people out of my life for several months. But after some soul searching, I feel I’m in a better frame of mind… and feel blessed for the layoff! Something I have to work on every day though. It’s exhausting! =)

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    1. Job seeking IS exhausting! Don’t be afraid to tap into your network and ask for help. Maybe they know of openings, or are willing to provide feedback on your resume. So many people want to help even though sometimes it’s hard to ask for it! Hang in there!!

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