How do you define work?

https://themighty.com/2018/02/unable-to-work-because-of-illness/

Every bit of this resonates with me.

It’s a constant struggle for people like me to remember our worth when there is so much stigma around being sick (especially young and sick) and not being able to work.

It often makes me wonder, how do you define work anyway?

Does work = I bring money to the table every single time? does my voluntary work with kids with troubled childhood which doesn’t earn me anything but makes me feel valuable and like I’m making some difference count as work? Does me trying to help an individual who is newly chronically ill/struggling with their health mean anything in the society at all?

What about the times I teach classes hoping they help those who participate — does that count as work even if it’s not always sustainable? What about the job I did as a receptionist at a pilates studio hoping I’d be able to stick with it and then got bedridden — does that count at all? Is that seen?

Does it matter that people like myself at one point had great aspirations and goals too and had to leave those behind, grieve our old selves and learn to accept what we’re presented with? Does anyone ever see the pain and the courage behind having to leave what brings most of us financial stability and freedom in order to prioritise health?

What about the work you put in day in day out to look after a faulty body? Imagine having to look after an extremely mischievous and sick child who doesn’t listen to you for twenty four seven. No break whatsoever. Not even when you sleep.

It’s easy for people to ask, “what do you do?” because it’s the most common way to start a conversation. It’s also very understandable and I have a standard answer ready. But you won’t believe the number of people I’ve come across up till now with the mindset that if you’re not working, traveling and or working out, you’re probably doing nothing. Or not doing enough of something. Or aren’t ambitious enough. Have no goals. Have nothing figured out.

What makes so many people think that those who’re sick are lazy or not ambitious enough? Couldn’t our ambitions and priorities have changed? Can we not bring empathy, compassion and kindness to the table instead of money? Is it not possible for us to do our part in some other way? Can we not be the people you turn to when things aren’t going right? Can we not support the family and household in other ways?

Or how about this: is it not possible that by us doing our self-work and learning to accept and tend to our illness allows us to manage the illness a little better and hence take some load and burden off those who are trying to support us? Isn’t that work too?

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And just as you think you’ve got it all under control, everything changes. It turns into a complete mess. Everything falls apart. Your control doesn’t count for anything. Nothing at all. You find yourself standing on an unstable foundation. Uncertainty takes over. You find fear building up inside of you. One bit at a time, every aspect of your life begins to alter. You are forced to evolve and grow. Your story changes. Your goals and aspirations look different. Your priorities are reshuffled. Your relationships are affected. Your truth starts to unfold. You realize you don’t seem to fit in anymore or that you never did. Your plans were just a dream. Your present becomes your reality. Your reality creates more opportunities. You realize that stepping forward requires stepping inwards first. A new set of doors suddenly open for you. You look back and see that some doors remain closed, some people belong in your past and some plans you thought your life depended on, just don’t matter as much anymore. Nothing looks like what you expected it to one day but you know it was meant to happen. Even if you don’t fully understand where it leaves you at, you know it was all for good.
Life continues to take place; every moment, every breath. Stay true, stay present. Stay grateful for what you have now because chances are, life won’t always look the way you thought it would.
❤︎