As regular readers of this blog (read people I force into reading this) you will know that I mainly use this as a method for clearing out what’s in my head. If I don’t write some things down they just run around and around in my head and slowly drive me insane. I think this is where the idea of me wanting to be a writer comes from. In reality, maybe I don’t want to be a writer; maybe I’m just seeking the peace that comes when you’ve got something out of your head.
And now, with that last line I have a whole new string of ideas spinning around in my head about the nature of my writing process. I’m sure they will work its way out as a blog post at some point. But that’s not what this one is about.
- How do you measure your worth as a person?
- How do you know when you are being useful in your life to others?
For some people these are really hard-to-answer, deep questions. Not so for me. I figured them both out at about the age of 13 when I was just starting the final two years of my GCSEs. Basically it goes like this:
I both have ‘worth’ and ‘use’ if the following conditions are met:
- I’m in a job where I feel that I’m doing some good to someone else somewhere. The more good I feel this job has the more ‘useful’ I feel. This explains, for those who are interested, my choice in jobs: The charity and education sector.
- I’m getting paid what I feel is a reasonable amount of money. The more money I get paid the more ‘worth’ I feel I have.
- The above two are augmented by how well I’m doing compared to my ‘benchmarks’. Throughout my life I have met people – some I like and some I don’t – whom I judge myself against. So the ‘usefulness’ I feel in point 1 can be boosted or reduced if one of my benchmarks has a job that I feel is more ‘useful’ than mine. Same with salary in point 2.
Now, this may make me shallow. And I can understand why people think that. But this system has worked for me. It’s what makes me strive forward; there are always more ways to help and there’s always more money to be made. Plus, I have to keep up with my ‘benchmarks’ – can’t have them outdoing me.
I know that the more I work – the harder I work – the more I help other people. The harder I work, the more money I get and the more worthwhile I feel. I can provide for my family and friends.
Now this is becoming a problem with my current situation. I am not at work…
…and it’s killing me.
I know that I still technically have the role – but it’s not me there doing it. I’m not doing something which is of use to people. I’m not doing anything. So, at the moment, while I am not working, I am not useful.
Also, because I’m off on long-term sick, quite rightly, I’m not being paid my full wage any more. In fact in the next couple of weeks I will drop from half-pay down to nothing. In my eyes, my ‘worth’ is being reduced to nothing.
Then bring in my benchmarks. As I said, some of them are people that I like – some are very close friends – and I’m happy for them. They have great jobs in which they do great work. Seriously, I would employ them without question. But that doesn’t stop a part of me measuring myself against them. Right now, they’re amazing… and I’m not.
Some of my ‘benchmarks’ are people I don’t like… And this is worse. I measure myself against these people who I don’t think are worth much and I’m lacking… I’m below zero.
I don’t see a way to fix this short of throwing out the system which defines me as a person. And even if I did throw it out, I’d need something to replace it with.
Part of me thinks it would be better to push myself even more. Go back to work. Get out of bed, use energy drinks, go to work, sleep as soon as I get in. This would give me all three of my points back. I would have both ‘worth’ and ‘use’. But what would this do to my health?
However, there is an argument that me getting worse is not always a bad thing. As it stands I’m not a priority transplant case – or at least, when I get listed I won’t be. If I make myself more ill, I could push myself up the list.
And ultimately, wouldn’t that be a good thing?