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Working is Not your Worth by Sophie Harvey

Originally posted some years ago, this important blog fell off the website during a move. We have seen a number of people beating themselves up over their condition's effect n their ability to work, so it seems a good time to put it back where it belongs.

Right, here goes. I feel a need to write this pep talk, for my future self to read, as well as for you!

Firstly, I have always equated my worth, with how much work I can get done. For instance, this is what my head sometimes sounds like ‘Well done Sophie, you have written an assignment, you are worth something now. Well done, you have unstacked the dishwasher, you are worthy of love now. Well done, you have done a work shift, you are good enough now.’ But this toxic commentary is something that doesn’t serve me. So, in this article, I am trying to change that.

In a society that says we should be exhausted all the time, from tirelessly staying up into the wee hours, pumped up on caffeine, hunched over our desks working, it’s hard to undo this narrative. Work to me is everything from housework, socialising (its hard work for an introvert!), academic work and work-work. (Please feel free to add in your own definitions of work here.)

For a lot of my life, I felt my chronic health issues have caused me to miss the Work Boat. This included, the Getting a Degree Boat, the Working 9-5 Boat, the Driving License Boat, and more trivial things like the Going to Prom Boat and The Going to Teenage Parties boat. Also, I worry that, because of my chronic illnesses, I will miss future boats, like the Supporting Myself Financially Boat, the Owning a Home Boat, and the Having Kids Boat. Sometimes, I feel like my ill health permanently moors me to the pier, the bitter wind whipping at my face as I stare, heartbroken, out to sea, watching my fellow classmates, friends, and family enjoy the ride on their boats.

But what if we change the narrative? Instead of making the aim going out on Work Boats, what if we simply enjoy the view? What if we turn to the mainland, and look at what the mainland has to offer? The adventure we already have under our feet. What if we wander along the pier, sun in our hair, go buy a dairy-free ice cream, have a seat on the bench and take in the view? What if the mainland is our adventure?

Finding your worth on a Work Boat is easy. It’s instant social validation of your worth. But it’s finding your worth on the mainland, that’s the difficult bit. And maybe that’s my adventure. To find meaning and purpose in a world that thinks the mainland doesn’t deserve meaning or purpose. Maybe, it’s ok to take little paddle boat trips. Whatever that looks like to you. For instance, occasional 2-hour shifts, instead of a 9-5 pm job. Of course, it’s ok to take big boat trips if you can, but it’s about also knowing there is no shame in occasionally staying on the mainland, drinking in the view, and being grateful for the ground under your feet.

So, my final parting words to you my love, are: Whether you are on a Work Boat or the mainland, you are worthy. Whether you are standing, sitting, or laying down on the pier, you are enough. You are enough. You are doing your best with what you have, and that’s what matters. Take care of yourself, my love. And remember, enjoy the view.

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Thank you for re-sharing this, I'm struggling to decide on what I want to do in life , I feel I NEED to work, like that will make everything perfect. This brought a tear to my eye because within myself I know I need to just cherish and enjoy what I am able to do and you're right, I think a trip to the mainland to re-evaluate my thinking will be beneficial! I really fancy that ice cream too 😉


That's so beautifully written!!! That's how I feel far too often! I loved the visual imagery. I'll think about this every time I feel this way again! Thank you!

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