I have had many jobs in my life and I have to say, I loved them all. When I was young, I did not have a clear picture of what I wanted to be, as for me this felt awkward. What is there to be?

If I was asked the question by adults, I would answer with ‘a mother’, but this was more from a feeling that I needed to have an answer rather than what I truly felt to say.

I have never been the career type either, planning my future and needing a specific function within a company. For me, most importantly, working had to be about people: being with people and working with and for people. Everything extra was extra. And it had to be fun!

The beauty is, most of the jobs I have done found me, instead of me finding them. I always believed, and still do, that we are all needed somewhere to bring something and to receive something. There is a reason why we are where we are and from all of my jobs I have learnt a lot, mostly about myself, but also about people, how to be and interact with one another and of the world.

I have worked as a PR manager, in a children’s day care centre, I have made toasties in the smallest yet most popular Toasty place in Amsterdam, I have worked as a secretary, as a management assistant in a bank and as a receptionist in a law firm. I have made breakfasts in a hotel, worked as a waitress at a lunch place, worked as a mentor with children who could not live at home, and for the past year I have worked as a receptionist in two different companies: a bank and an IT company. At the moment I work as a journalist for a Dutch news website.

When I applied for the receptionist job I was of the assumption, however, that it would be for a short time. Somehow a belief had come to the surface that this job was not ‘good enough’, that I was wasting my talents and that I could do much better.

Even though I could feel I was needed in these two companies, my mind was playing games with me. I started to compare my situation with people around me; with those who had jobs that I thought were more important, more busy, received more recognition and earned a lot more money. This has taken some time to let go of and at times I still compare.

The picture of what a working life has to look like, being a 44-year-old woman without a career, is heavily ingrained: not only within me, but within society. We live in a world where having a career or having a certain job is seen as important, but also that some jobs are better than others.

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If we don’t enjoy our work

What makes us seek reward and recognition from the outside world within our workplace and our daily activities? There could be another way to be at work and truly enjoy what we do.

We get identified with what we do, instead of just being who we are and bringing that to work, regardless of what kind of work. Working as a receptionist has taught me a lot. First of all, I don’t feel I am the receptionist, it is just a job I am doing. I come to work as Mariette, and I leave my work as Mariette.

I don’t change into a role or a function; I am just me, the same as I am at home. Secondly, I know deep down that every job matters and is equally important. Each job has purpose.

I am just as important as my manager, my HR colleague, the staff in the kitchen, the cleaner, the postman and the IT specialist. We are all needed and we all bring something unique. Thirdly, my sense of worth does not depend on what job I do. I am not worth more because of the job title I have.

My self-worth comes from within and how I feel about myself. My worth is founded on the relationship I have with myself. Self-worth is about who I am and is not about what I do. This is still very much work in progress, as I have the tendency to appreciate myself more when I do a lot and when my day has been really busy.

Working as a receptionist has given me the space to meet a lot of people, to connect and to talk about life and everything that has to do with it. For me it is not so much about the tasks I have to do, but far more about the connection I have with the people around me.

I have brought my flavour, and my fellow colleagues brought their flavour to the job. Together we were an awesome team. Every single one of my colleagues has been great at certain aspects of the job, and so have I (and with certain things I am not so great and that is fine too). I love going to work, and Mondays and Fridays are exactly the same.

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Re-imprinting your relationship with work

Being honest allows us to change the way we are, which then allow us to change our relationship with work.

Today I work as journalist and I really enjoy this job as I can use my writing talents. I don’t see this job as better, yet it does suit me more as it asks more of me and I can do many different things: things I was not able to do as a receptionist. But still, work is something I do, it is not who I am. And also this job is about people for me . . . and lucky me, I have met a lot of new people and still do since I work here.

Every job matters. Not because of the job, but because we ALL matter, regardless of what we do. We are ALL of value and an equal part in the puzzle called life.

Deeply inspired by Universal Medicine and all those wonderful people that I meet every single day.

Filed under

Work life balanceSelf-worth

  • By Mariette Reineke

  • Photography: Dean Whitling, Brisbane based photographer and film maker of 13 years.

    Dean shoots photos and videos for corporate portraits, architecture, products, events, marketing material, advertising & website content. Dean's philosophy - create photos and videos that have magic about them.