Lately, I’ve been pondering the important things that tend to be looked over in our society. After all, if it’s not socially accepted, it’s usually deemed as bullshit, right? I’ve had a lot of time on my hands lately what with trying to find a decent job all while desperately clinging on to what little confidence I have left that all I seem to notice is what tends to get brushed under the rug. I know I touch on this topic a lot, and I’m sure a lot of you are sick of hearing about it, but I want you to take a moment to step outside of yourself and think about who you are without your beloved titles and accolades that you use to describe yourself and your worth. If every skill you’ve ever mastered was taken away today, what kind of person would you be?
We put so much emphasis on what we’ve acquired over the years that we tend to incorporate those things for what we are worth, so when, and if, we come up short, we feel as if we are nothing. Maybe I just want something else to think about rather than my impending doom, but when I take a moment to breathe and walk away from my computer and everything that shouts out all of my shortcomings at me, I feel like myself again. We put so much pressure on ourselves to live up to what society wants us to be that we tend to forget who we are in the process. My friends often remind me of who I am and what I live for every day. When I spend time with them, we don’t care what the other is currently doing. Sure, we ask from time to time out of pure curiosity, but it is not the deciding factor in if we want to be in each others lives. When I’m with them, all I want to do is laugh until I cry. I want to come home with a headache from laughing so hard, not from trying to defend myself.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am sans degree, which seems to me to be the only reason why I am passed over for someone else who wears their accomplishments on their sleeve. Let’s call this person Working Girl. Working Girl had the privilege of going to a pretty decent college, got her degree and is now writing for an online magazine full time. Jaded Writer (hi, that’s me!) is pretty poor, doesn’t have her degree but has taken a few affordable online courses to improve her job prospects, writes for two popular music blogs and contributes to other various ones that she finds interesting. Now, looking at the two of them, they lead somewhat similar lives – it’s just that one of them is getting paid while the other slaves away (but she really does enjoy it) for no pay.
Now let’s say Working Girl woke up one morning and everything was taken away: no degree, no job, no money. Who would she be? What would she do? Would she recognize herself? Jaded Writer, on the other hand, wakes up every morning with none of those things, yet she still tries to get her foot in the door no matter how much they slam it in her face. She somehow manages to bandage it up night after night and cautiously tries again the next day. This feeling of failure is reminiscent of being an outcast in school. If you don’t look a certain way, you are banished from society. In this case, I am stereotypically labeled the “lazy poor girl with no education” that I feel is tattooed on my face with every rejection just because I don’t have a piece of paper. If disenchantment were a class, I’d pass with flying colors. I think the best thing about being unemployed is that it really opens your eyes to the things that would normally go right over your head.
When you look at a random person on the street, what assumptions do you make? If you see a man in a suit, you probably assume he has a good job, but what about who he really is? If that well-dressed man lost his job and his degree, who would he be? We make judgements based on what a person does, not by the kind of person that they are. The first thing people usually ask you when you first meet them is “what do you do?” as if it defines who you are. When are we going to stop judging people on things that are superficial? I’m tired of feeling like I am completely worthless to the “higher-ups” who think the only way they’ll get any good written content is if they hire people with degrees. Colleges cannot teach you how to write or how to feel; if you cannot bleed your every thought onto a page, you are a robot, and robots don’t think – they are programmed to do what the masses want. From an early age, we are taught that if you don’t follow the status quo, you are not going to be successful. But what about the things that matter at the end of the day? Are you someone who you’d want to be friends with?
I recently did a little poll and asked my friends to describe me in 3 words. Not one of them mentioned anything about what I do or what I have accomplished but instead commented on who I am as a person. Character is the main factor in deciding who we want in our lives, not our endeavors. Their responses made me truly see what kind of person I am in the eyes of others and they made me realize that I already have everything I need to live a happy, successful life. Despite my shortcomings, the people who love me think I am a good person, and that is an honor that I will take to my grave.
Remember that you are NOT your job, your accolades (or lack thereof) or your exam scores nor are you worth the amount of money you have in the bank. Be genuine, kind, trustworthy, honorable, loving, weird, humorous, witty, goofy, smart, creative, unique, loyal, extraordinary and daring. Be all of those things and more, but most of all be YOU. Be alive. I may be a writer and some of that may find it’s way into my character, but I am so much more. We have to remind ourselves of these things, or it can get dark pretty fast.
So…this is your life. Are you who you want to be?