People who equate self-worth with status find life turned upside down when they are handed a pink slip.
RECESSION WAS already looming on the horizon when four aircraft decided to ram it home to you. In less than a week after September 11, thousands lost jobs; in less than a month, hundreds of thousands more; over the next one year, 24 million are expected to be jobless. In an increasingly networked world, the effects of these job losses have been felt far and wide. Here in India as well. Layoffs don’t just affect your income, your financial security. All too often a job loss brings in its wake a fast-diminishing sense of self-worth, self-possession. With no phones to answer, no car to drive in, nowhere to drive to, nobody to deal with–all the familiar trappings of being successfully, gainfully employed–it’s easy to feel desolate and redundant.
But it’s also a misguided feeling. If a job alone decided our status and gave meaning to our lives, this whole business of creation would have been quite meaningless. Sure, a job is important–it’s our means to a regular income and to a position in society. But most important, it’s a vehicle of self-expression. There is such a thing as our calling, our dharma. When we’re lucky, the work we do is the work we were meant to do. When we’re not so lucky, we either find meaning in the work we do, or lead meaningless lives that pivot on the paraphernalia of our job–salary and status.
Column in Outlook Money