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Work, I Am More Than The Title You Give Me

by Penelope Mayfield 27 days ago in humanity

How erecting boundaries helped to build a better me

Work, I Am More Than The Title You Give Me
Photo by Persnickety Prints on Unsplash

Work is something that defines so much of our lives. It not only sets the rhythm of our days, but it can set the tone for who we are and the roads we journey.

I have worked my whole life. First, it was a pet-sitting business. Then a veterinary assistant. A legal assistant. And now I help run a subsidiary business my company owns. My title? I am a worker.

Work has provided paychecks and skills which have nourished me in countless ways. I trusted work. It has been my life-long friend. And, for many years, the only thing I could count on. My title, the one success I could claim — I am a worker.

But when I wasn’t looking, it latched itself onto an undetected corner of my soul. A leech slowly sipping the drink that was me.

It’s not a bad thing to love what you do. It makes life that much more palatable. But we — the workers — are gymnasts traversing the balance beam of life and if we’re not careful, if we do not maintain our equilibrium, we may just find ourselves falling.

There are innumerable quotes that instruct us to question whether we live to work or work to live. And yet, we continue to simply just work. Or, at least, that is what I did.

We have to work. To be able to pay for the beds in which we sleep and the food that rests in our bellies. But should we resolve ourselves to simply be happy with the title worker? Or should we seek a better position with a better title?

I am a human.

I remember waking up one day and feeling the pinch of that leech’s kiss. Work had provided but it had also taken away. And it was nearly finished draining me of all the droplets that made me me.

And that scared me.

If I continued to volunteer to be its deferent host, what would be left? Would I transform not into a beautiful butterfly but instead a hollow husk?

I went to work that day and did what I normally did. I smiled at the receptionist and made my way to my desk. I sat my coffee down next to my monitor and I did what every dutiful worker does — I worked.

When the day came to a close, my boss approached my desk and asked if I was interested in staying late to assist with a large project that may bleed over into the weekend.

“No. I actually have plans.”

“What are your plans?” He was shocked because I was a worker. And my plans had always been to work.

“I don’t know. Life.”


Work is something with which we have a relationship. And sometimes relationships need to not only be redefined, but boundaries erected. Or we risk the home that houses our soul being breached and overtaken. Our hopes and dreams raided and burned.

Learning the word “no” was the tool that helped me build those fences. The boundaries had always been there, of course, but now I could actually see them. I knew that when I walked through that gate, I was a worker. And that when I returned, I could transform into anything I wanted to be.

This shiny new fence illuminated my space, reintroducing me to its vast beauty and possibility. It may have been just dirt now, but I could see a blossoming garden over there, and hear the songs of the birds in their bath over there.

I am more than just a human. My title shifts in response to the most subtle of breezes. I am a wife. I am a cook. I am a reader. I am a Daughter. I am a writer. But my most important title?

I am me.

While certainly a pivotal part, work should not be what defines the totality of my life. And had I not learned to build those fences to secure the land of my life, there is so much of me that would have been left undiscovered. The stories that grace my profile page and even this article may have never been written. Instead, I would have probably just been sitting at my desk doing what all dutiful workers do — working.


Penelope Mayfield

Writer. Reader. Human. Fueled by tea and cookies.

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