Poem – my business is not who I am in the world

I read this fabulous article tonight about objectification at work, How to build a life: A profession is not a personality.

It was posted on the ever brilliant and relevant Freelance Jungle, the best mental health resource for Australian freelancers I’ve come across. It reminded me of a poem I wrote in my journal a few years ago when I was wrestling with my obsession with work. When I was sick and unemployed I struggled deeply without a public identity because that is usually our work. Struggling to figure out work left me tangled and defining my self and life in ways that disempowered and wounded me. I recall listening once to a fabulous presentation at a world hearing voices conference when one of the speakers told us he felt as defined and limited by his public identity as a psychiatrist as he used to by his public identity as a schizophrenic. He introduced himself as a person who worked as a psychiatrist. It was strange and thought provoking. We are all more than the roles we play, and it seems to be just as important for us to remember that as it is for other people to perceive it about us.

My business is not
Who I am in the world.
It is not
My identity, my value, my self respect
Not the sum of me
My place
My impact
My legacy. 

My business is a project
One project among many
A way to earn money
Make a difference
A way to be in the world.
It is not the only way
The one, true, right, way
The sum of every effort until now
Validation for all that came before
The reward for every tribulation.
It is just my business, one dream
Among many.

My business is not 
Proof that I've 'made it', or
Evidence I've settled, given up, sold out, lost faith.
It doesn't mean I've gone over to the other side
Become a success or failed a character test
It's something to be proud of but not the only thing
It's a part of me but I am not
A peice of it.
If it died
I would still be here.
My business is not
Who I am in the world.

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