Work and Self-esteem ~ K.B. Pellegrino

A few friends and family members have changed jobs recently and some have gained full-time employment for the first time. The excitement of new employment, especially when it’s in the field that was your goal or in your dream job, is almost like starting the fall semester when in school. There is excitement. Further, there is payment for your work. For young college graduates, there is also some trepidation and the fear of: will I measure up; will I like it; will others like me; what is the dress code; how will I manage only one vacation week a year; and on and on.

In the United States, work is an important identifier. I remember when I was a young mom and would be invited to cocktail and dinner parties. The first question asked was, “Where do you work?” Despite my degree in engineering, I felt out of the loop. I was home, then, taking care of babies, but that was of little interest to the other guests. Perhaps the culture has changed. Perhaps today everyone is interested in two and three year old kids’ antics. I think not.

Instead, I am reminded of a long article I read several years ago in a psychology magazine. I wish i could quote it, but no, I am unable to remember the wording of the powerful message. In essence, the article discussed the importance of work in its relationship to self-esteem. Not every culture values work. It is at work that employees, managers, and vested owners come together to bring about some measurable product, service or social result that allows all to believe in the value of their own efforts. When a company is successful, every member will proudly announce that he or she is employed by that company.

Lately, the economic success of a company has been criticized by some. They look to insure that all who work act according to certain standards. Since cultural standards change frequently, corporations and even small businesses are often not aware of new standards until they have offended. Profit itself has been attacked as too large with too much returned to the owners. Often the owners are us through the stocks and bonds we own in our retirement or 401k plans. We as members of society, are always in a state of flux when it comes to values.

Still, work enhances our thought processes, social skills, awareness of others, and our responsibilities to others. Most importantly, work lets us say to ourselves, “I did that. I didn’t think I could do that, but I did. I helped that client or customer. I developed a great plan, etc.”

The result is an increase in our appreciation of our abilities and ourselves.

K. B. Pellegrino, Author

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