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Good honest work

Sometimes I find myself scrolling through job ads.

I don’t work right now. I study, and I parent. And as of late, I barely study.

I used to have a great deal of pride in my work ethic. Upon reflection, however, it was false pride. In truth, I worked only to achieve approval. But I would eagerly work myself into the ground for it – I did, on numerous occasions. I had to give it up.

Upon relinquishing my work ethic and allowing myself to sink into the fertile ground of being, a lot of things happened. I became better in many ways that are very important to me, because I devoted my efforts to the emotional labour of fixing myself. But that uses very different muscles from what most of us consider productive work. And those productive muscles, I fear, may have atrophied.

I don’t need more money right now. I have everything I need. And I enjoy the relative spaciousness of my life – it allows me to keep my centre. It’s the difference, I believe, between me being more or less the kind of person and parent I want to be, and not. And it gives me the space to calmly assess where I’m falling short, so I can course correct, or graciously accept imperfection, as appropriate.

So why do I find myself looking for job opportunities?

Because the fear creeps in, still – the fear that I’m not worthy. The fear that the only way to be worthy is to do more, to contribute everything I have instead of keeping it for myself. The fear that being a good mother isn’t enough – that raising a small child isn’t a big enough contribution to the world to warrant the time I spend on it. And from all that fear rises the idea that, if I work hard enough and prove myself unequivocally to be an upstanding member of society – if I’m such a good contributor that no one can argue – then I can finally earn acceptance. And I must earn acceptance.

I know it’s bullshit. And a distraction from the real work. But I just caught myself doing it.

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