I am more than my productivity
I am more than my productivity. My worth as a human being is not determined by how much money I earn or how much work I complete. Whether or not this sounds silly to you, this is something that I have to remind myself on a daily basis. And man, I really hate that I have to.
I don’t know how it is in other countries, but in America, you’re taught when you’re tiny that the goal is to grow up, go to school, and get an amazing job. To be a ‘productive member of society’. Those are the words everyone uses. Productive member of society. It’s so important to everyone.
It’s programmed into you – and so is the shame that comes with your failure to meet that goal.
The other day I was listening to a podcast and the host happened to mention that her idea of a loser is someone who never works hard or contributes anything to their house/society. Someone who isn’t productive and doesn’t add anything. Not gonna lie, those words really sucked to hear.
I don’t think that they consider disabled people losers if they can’t work, but y’know… a lot of people do. A lot. So even though she wasn’t specifically targeting disabled people, it still sent a message that harms our community on a regular basis. It’s hard not to wince when you hear it. Especially from someone that you care about and have supported for years.
Every time someone says something hurtful that can be applied to the disabled community and one of us points it out – we always get the same response. “I didn’t mean you and you know it. Don’t be so sensitive.” Except they almost always do mean me/us/disabled people. They might feel guilty when they realize, but nah. They still mean it.
We’re called drains on society constantly.
I say we because up until less than a year ago that was me. Collecting SSI and unemployed. To be honest, I’ve just got a little part time job and to a lot of people, that’s still not good enough. We’re criticized for how much money it costs taxpayers to keep us alive while not contributing anything ourselves. Hell, the Nazi’s used this logic to send people like me to die. And it worked. Today it’s used to keep us out of politics, to take away social programs and strip down our health care.
America is a money hungry country. I mean, the only thing our president seems to love more than abusing women is money. Rich people are celebrated, poor people are shamed. If you don’t have a job, you’re lazy. If you live with your parents, you’re a loser. That’s how it’s always been.
For the people who will say ‘it’s not about the money, it’s about hard work.’ – well, that’s a problem, too. Hard work is one thing, but we tend to glorify people who go out and get 2 or 3 jobs, have some sort of side gig like freelancing or Uber, without stopping to ask why is any of this even necessary. People shouldn’t have to work themselves into exhaustion or illness just to pay rent. A lot of people can’t even get hired at one place, let alone three. And a lot of people just can’t work for completely valid reasons – which there are a lot of, surprise surprise. No matter how valid the reason, you’re still expected to push past it and find a way.
Because of that, there’s a real sense of guilt and shame that is embedded in a lot of disabled people.
I see it in a lot of people I know, myself included. All because we know we aren’t as productive as our peers. I feel embarrassed when my friends talk about their jobs because I work half as many hours, despite the fact that I leave in pain pretty much every day.
When I don’t get as many posts up as I’d like to in a month, I’m mad at myself for weeks. Even though this isn’t my job and I can post as little or as much as I want to with no consequences. Even though I’m dealing with other things like fighting with insurance to get a new chair and trying to get my dying one to last through the day. I just never feel like I’m doing enough. So many people manage so much more, so why can’t I?
But it’s all bullshit.
I’m more than what I earn or make. We’re all more than that. Everyone is. In a long list of all the things I love about my friends and family, their productivity isn’t even a factor. A person is still a person regardless of their employment status. Whether or not they can physically handle a full time shift, let alone overtime or multiple jobs or any job at all. If their disability or mental health forces them to stay home, or if they can’t find a job, or whatever their situation is. It doesn’t matter. Every single human is meaningful and has something important to give to the world. Even if you can’t attach a dollar sign to what they have to offer. It doesn’t make them any less important or valuable.