embracing pain, Feminist musings, Gender stereotypes, Hurting, I am a girl, Passing Woman, Self-Questioning

Money, Self-Worth and Lutheran Work Ethics

It’s no secret that a lot we carry around affects us. Our past. It’s on our skin. And the most demanding past is obviously our childhood.

It’s really hard to get past what you’ve seen as normal, the norm even, at home. When I grew up, I was brought up like a boy. I was reminded of this today when I was doing some lumber work on the countryside. How hilarious it was, just me and all the husbands, rolling, carrying and throwing logs of 20 to 40 kilos to make neat piles. So we’d have a view to the lake.

I’m a city child myself, so this was fairly new to me. But I liked it. The brisk air, the contentment after the area was cleared, the certainty of the work. I could see the effect right away.

I didn’t think twice about carrying the logs. I’m adept for that sort of thing, I thought and started. The guys then followed me lead. Soon everybody was downhill, women gathering the branches for fires to be lit later on. Us making piles of timber to be covered for the winter, used in the spring for firewood.

That’s the way I was brought up. I know about temperament and how it’s an asset I was born with. I know about myself, how I’ve constructed this person who is unbreakable, so able, so strong, so that I wouldn’t have to ask for anything, ever. I also know that it’s not irrelevant how I was brought up. Should I have been brought up in the US, in a small town somewhere, I’d be completely different.

There’s never been any empahis on my appearence. It has always been important for me to be able, to do something useful. Work has been the symbol of my worth, so much so, that when I was unemployed I fell into deep depression. I’d always believed that somehow the world keeps those safe, who work hard. The realization that society really truly doesn’t support the weak, at all, left me somewhat dazed. What am I working so hard for, then?

I am not working for the money. I am working to make myself worth something.

The bigger the pay, the better I am.

I am working now as an educator, which is widely known to be an underpayed field of work for the academicly achieved. The pay is, well, it’s not that much, but I can’t see it the way I used to see it. The money doesn’t matter to me anymore. My worth is somewhere else. It’s here, home, in aspirations much higher. Trying to love and connect, conceive, writing on subjects no one else seems to have touched deeply enough to say anything that would stick. Trying to tackle my past, my childhood, the paths I took to get here.  The ways I never saw my parents affecting me and my judgment of good an evil.

You have to eat all of this, it was so expensive. It would be such a waste, says my dad in the breakfast table. Such a normal thing to say, comic even in its echoes of the times of war, limited resources, the unpredictable ways tables were turning, families were torn apart. But I sat there beside him, and I thought. It doesn’t matter what it cost. It’s not a waste. We are already content. That is what was the goal.

And it’s no wonder, really, when you think about it, that I’m an emotional eater and have struggled with eating all my life. That it’s hard for me to stop, when I open a bottle, to say no, when I don’t want something. Nothing should go to waste on my behalf.

But for those whose base personal security, seen here in the terms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, was unearthed at a young age, I guess, will never recover. My mom, my dad. I just have to accept the weakness they share. Being left behind, being abandoned as children, having to make themselves again through their own doings, through their work. That doesn’t mean I have to act them out in the next generation. I won’t raise my children in a fashion that suggests that they have to prove their worth, over and over again.

For me, money has been a symbol of my worthiness. I’m trying to break through that. The constant and hyperbolic hunt for new jobs and projects when I’m already under two huge ones. I don’t need the money. I’m alredy content. But what am I worth?

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One thought on “Money, Self-Worth and Lutheran Work Ethics

  1. Pingback: Money – That’s What I Want « Past the Hurt

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