May 1, 2023
It’s May Day! What could improve your wellness as a worker?
In the spirit of tying labor with identity, I am sitting with what it means to be a “worker” and a “well worker” as an Asian-American person. Unfortunately, “work” has been very tied up with my sense of identity. Who I am and my value. Simultaneously, I play with the idea of not working almost every morning because… I am an adult human. Then my immigrant child brain whips in a frenzy of obligation to my parents who emigrated here because of work opportunities and getting caught up in draining work experiences to make ends meet. I rage about our horrifying immigration system that values productivity through restrictive work visas curating a “model minority.” I scream about the generations of AAPI people here because of unfair systems of labor, lies of the American dream, the heavy weight of our parents’ hopes for our successful futures.
Woof. What I did there was classic Rajani. Get hyper-systemic to detour from self-reflection. Okay, what could improve my wellness as a worker? Well, I want naps and creative space and enough money and/or goods to live a happy life with my spouse and many bunnies. I want to figure out how to be well while doing good in this world.
As a lifelong nonprofit worker, I am navigating the harmful ideas that I must work towards the mission and community needs above all else. That I should get paid below my worth. All of that is exhausting. I want to feel like as a director of a nonprofit organization it is okay for me to stop at or before 40 hours in a five-day work week. I want to be able to consider establishing four-day work weeks for myself and my staff, without the fear that this would greatly negatively impact the communities we serve. I want to have abundant space for flexibility and less urgency. Seeing my peers, colleagues, and staff feel well would in turn help me to feel well.
Worker wellness cannot be in isolation from the broader scope of “work” itself.