Living in a state of “unproduction” again, I find myself battling the old paradigm that I am worthless unless I produce. At this point, I won’t even say I feel worthless as much as I feel non-existent. Purposeless almost. Some days it really feels hard to get out of bed, almost as if because I don’t have a job to rush to. And even though I’m happily pursuing a more entrepreneurial path, like all earlier years of entrepreneurship, a lot of work reaps very little reward. It almost makes it seem useless.
But there, we circle back to the act of assigning value based on what I produce/achieve/earn, stealing away any joy present in the present of finally living in freedom. The mind is a mobile prison, if you allow it.
I was listening to a podcast, and the question was posed “Who are you outside of the context of what you do, and the roles you fulfill?” I even found when asking a group of my beta program participants to introduce themselves, many used the basic introduction of “this is what I studied, this is my job.” I was pretty disappointed, but again, if I were asked that question in a group setting, I’d probably respond the same way. It was interesting to note the one person who didn’t have a job title to include in her introduction looked to include some of her interests and more personal traits, but did so sheepishly, as if that wasn’t good enough in comparison to the others who could comfortably confine their essence in the acceptable boxes of profession our beloved work culture of America has instilled in us.
But I mean, here I am, alone asking myself that same question. Actively living a lifestyle in which I don’t have a job to tie to my identity, and here I am feeling like I barely exist.
I think about how Peace Corps was a revealing psychosocial experiment of the average American. How watching so many people suffer under a lack of identity when their titles, achievement, and accolades were removed. I always wonder when I hear people say they love their jobs, sometimes, if they really do. Do you love your job enough that you would do it for free? Without the money or recognition? If we stripped our society of the need to earn to pay bills, the need instilled in us to buy nice yet unnecessary things, who exactly would you be?
The phrase “we are human BE-ings, not human DO-ings” is one that has constantly been popping up in my life since the start of the pandemic. I love it so much because it brings, for me, a justification against this unnaturally obsessive work culture. And yet, the real irony is, it’s a lot easier to work incessantly and derive meaning and worth from it than it is to just BE who you are, where you are, and embody that same measure of worth. I think that’s the real reason people are miserable but continue doing and living the same life. Because the amount of effort it takes to breakthrough that paradigm of thinking, that state of consciousness, can be overwhelming and dark.
Because there is no manual course, or class you can take to learn how to do it. It’s very contrary to the school of thought we have been bred and groomed in, one in which since you were maybe 4 or 5, someone was there to instruct you. To provide you with the things you were told were necessary to learn and put your focus on, all at the sacrifice of coming into your own way of thinking and being everyone was born with. In breaking away from the herd, there are no set tests or answers. Everyone must pass through their own unique initiation.
Clearly, this is a part of mine. Existing in this abysmal nothing-ness, trying to emerge with a much more individualized understanding of who I am outside of the influences of money, status, standards, or even security.
It’s very difficult to talk freely about these concepts because most people are still stuck (though they wouldn’t agree with that word) in the old programming. I notice whenever I do speak openly about the world I’m living in, some people feel the compulsive need to have to defend their state, and their role in it. To which I can only think of my own experience whenever I hear someone is getting a promotion or going back to school: I am happy to enjoy the experience of witnessing. Someone else’s life choices/life perspective is their own as much as I value mine being my own.