We Are Not Our Jobs

“email” by macrofight used with a Creative Commons licence Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

No one will ever look back and say “wow, I’m so glad I worked those extra hours” or “remember Christmas 2019 when I checked my work email once a day during my holiday break?”. If this is something that does happen, boy oh boy that person has lived a sad life.

We live in a world where so many people have decided that work dominates most of their adult lives. They live and breathe their job. Their work gives them an identity. With the advent of smartphones they’re now able to be even more immersed in their work world. They can check their email all the time. They can be in a never ending chat with co-workers over whatever group messaging app is in at the moment. They can also craft social media identities to do even more work and have even more of an excuse to do the work that they’ve chose in their adult life.

Back at the end of the last decade and in the very early parts of this decade, I was one of those people building up a social media identity so that I could be more in tune with my chosen career path. At the end of this decade, I think about how much time I’ve wasted on that social media identity, how I can never get it back, and how I wish I had the guts to destroy all of this and disappear.

There’s no long lasting joy or big reward in doing more work. There’s the initial rush of adrenaline, the neurons firing in the brain because something was accomplished. But that fades quickly and over time those moments are few and far between. The more you work the quicker you lose yourself. The more you lose yourself the quicker the passion for what you can do in this life fades.

In a day I’ll be heading off on a holiday break where my family and I will explore more of New Zealand, welcome some other family to this beautiful country, and just simply exist. I’m finding those moment to be happening more and more and I am thankful for it. I am not my job and my job is not me. I’m not Justin The Librarian anymore, but damn I bought this domain so I’ll keep it.

Please don’t work on your holiday. Please don’t check your emails. Please stay off social media as much as you can. The moment right in front of you is the best thing ever. Don’t miss it.


  1. Hello, Justin! A well-written post! I hope you and your family enjoyed your holiday break. I just came back from mine–about 2 weeks with family in NY and PA. I didn’t think about work, I was rarely on the Internet, and it felt great! I enjoy my job as a librarian and I give my all when I’m at work, but when I leave for the day, I leave my work behind. It’s important to have a balance in life and focus on what really matters, unplug from time to time. A job is what you do, not who you are. I hope you continue to enjoy being in the moment–best wishes!

  2. I’ll be 35 this year, and I am finally accepting that I am not a job. I checked my work email exactly one time while on break, and it was earlier this week because yesterday and today were service days (meetings before school starts). And it was 100 percent okay. I feel rested and ready to roll for the beginning of the semester on Monday.

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