Your Work Will Never Equal Your Worth

By Lindsay Scholz

There I was, sitting at my desk with my head down, ears burning with embarrassment and eyes stinging with imminent tears.

I was 22 and I’d just made my first big mistake at work, and I wasn’t taking it lightly or easily. 

My inner critic came out in full force, calling me every name in the book and convincing me that I’d surely be fired - my reputation entirely smeared - come 5 p.m. that day. I questioned my intelligence, my education and the whole trajectory of my career in an instant. I was crushed and didn’t know what to do next.

Needless to say, I wasn’t fired, and every worst case scenario milling around in my head didn’t come true. As thankful as I was that I was still gainfully employed, the most important lesson that I learned from my big mistake was this: your work will never determine your worth.

Just because you have a bad day at work doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.

Just because you screw up a presentation doesn’t mean that you’re a screw up.

Just because you didn’t land that promotion doesn’t mean that you’re not growing.

Have you reminded yourself of this lately?

Now that I’m several years into my career, I’m proud to say that I’ve made a handful of other mistakes since that one so long ago, which have all taught me important lessons about perseverance, integrity and ownership.

If you find yourself struggling with equating your work to your worth, you’re not alone. I still grapple with tying life’s meaning to how my professional reviews go, but that’s just not what this life is about.

Ready to set yourself free from the vicious work/worth cycle?

For starters, when I meet someone new and am asked the age-old question of “What do you do?,” I flip that question on its head and answer with what I do that brings me joy – outside of work. The next time this question pops up at an event or gathering I encourage you to try the same!

It takes practice – and courage – to get past, “I’m a [BLANK]” or “I work at [BLANK],” but replying with, “I love to encourage others to be their best self through my blog,” will never get old or fade in authenticity.

Whether you work in an office, a classroom, a studio or your home, you owe it to yourself to give yourself grace on a daily basis and to continually remind yourself that yes – work is important, but you’re so much more than who you are during the 9-to-5 grind.

You are more than your job title. 

You are more than your salary.

You are more than your resumé bulletpoints. 

You are more.