Do you ever say this to yourself, or to others out loud: “Oh, I’m just a ____,” with the “____”
being the job you’re doing?
I used to think and say this all the time.
Back in 2017 I made the choice to leave a “steady,” “good,” but ultimately “soul killing” career
in pursuit of a better life for myself.
I knew I wanted to do physical work that was done mostly solo. I knew I wanted to do
something entrepreneurially, where I was in control of my schedule. I knew I wanted to make a good income.
Considering all that, I decided to get into professional cleaning, and I began cleaning houses
with a plan to build my own business.
It seemed like a good idea in the beginning, but not long after I started, the negative voices in my head began saying their piece. “You left your job for this? Really? Isn’t this a bit of a fall
from grace?” “Scrubbing peoples’ toilets, that’s the direction you wanted to head in?” “No one
respects you; you know. You’re just a cleaning lady now.” And on and on.
I made myself miserable. I let pride kick in - my career before was one where people would say, “Ohhh, you work for…” with impressed voices and faces. Now it was, “Oh, you’re cleaning houses…?” with the opposite tones and facial expressions. I made those days incredibly hard for myself.
But eventually I got sick of questioning myself and making myself feel so badly. I was sick of the negativity. I started thinking, “You know what? This is what I’m choosing to do right now. This is the thing I’m doing. If I hate it so much then I can change it and do something else.
For now, this is how the money’s coming in, so how can I make the best of it?”
I asked myself that question regularly, “How can I make the best of this?” The answer was to be completely present and focused while I was doing the work. It was committing to excellence. It was keeping my head clear and positive, appreciating the fact that I had the work and was physically able to do it. It was challenging myself to increase my thoroughness and efficiency. It was consistently telling those negative voices in my head to shush.
And things changed. Cleaning became something I enjoyed, and I was proud of the quality of work I provided. I was proud of myself for changing things, too, because I felt and was doing so much better.
The best part of all was the feedback that I was getting from clients. “The house looks great,
thank you!!” “It feels so good after you’ve been here!” “I just love walking in the door and
seeing the house so clean. Thank you!”
One day it clicked: No, I am not just a cleaning lady. I’m providing my clients a service that they appreciate and that helps make their lives better. I’m providing a service, and it’s one that not everyone can (or is willing) to do. I have the flexibility and control of my time that I desired. I have a skill that is applicable anywhere and is always in demand. The money is coming in. I have done well for myself, and I like what I do.
I have come full circle from where I started, and the way I see myself is reflected in how I see
the people I encounter. I no longer believe that any job is “just a job.” Each job is a service
that’s being provided. When I go to the grocery store, I appreciate the clerk I interact with
because he or she is helping me get the things I need. When I’m out and about, I appreciate my fellow cleaners who are keeping the places I go safe and clean. When I see maintenance crews out, I deeply appreciate the men and women choosing to work in the elements, fixing things, and keeping things running.
There is no such thing as, “I’m just a ____.”
We are all filling roles that need to be filled to keep each other safe, happy, comfortable, nourished, etc. etc. We are providing services for one another and helping each other make our day-to-day experiences that much better. We are working together to keep things going smoothly in our communities and in our society.
So, if you’ve been saying, “I’m just a ____,” then here’s me telling you that, no, you are not
“just” an anything. You matter. What you do matters. You are a part of a bigger picture that
involves all the people around you. You mean more to someone than you know, and you’re
having a greater effect on others than you realize. If you doubt this, then please remember that there are people like me out there who see you and appreciate what you do. You matter.
If anything, you’re a “____” that matters and is valuable because you choose to show up, be a part of things, and do the job that you have decided to do.
Thank you for doing it and thank you for being you.