When talking about the tremendous job loss that the pandemic has triggered, we often discuss the financial implications. Naturally, that’s the main focus for many. Without financial stability, it’s hard to focus on much else. That being said – and I’ll tread lightly here – money is replaceable. Understandably, it’s much more difficult to replace for some than for others, and certain groups are at a huge disadvantage when it comes to trying to rebuild wealth. But money is a thing, and things are something that many of us have long agreed are replaceable.
The purpose of bringing up the replaceable loss that comes from unemployment is to bring up the consequence that’s not as easy to fix: identity loss. Maybe you know someone who is financially fine, in spite of having lost their job. They have savings. They have other forms of income. They aren’t worried about putting food on the table or paying the rent and yet, they’re spiraling out of control. Maybe that person is you. If your career is a huge part of your identity – or, even arguably your entire identity – then this can be a very troubling time. We spoke with Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Altagracia Andre (IG: altagracia_lmft) of Caring Therapists about how to cope if the pandemic took your job and your job was your identity. We also chatted about how this change can impact couples.
The risk of tying your identity to your career
“In the hyper-working culture that we live in, it’s easy to lose ourselves in our work,” says Andre. “Losing your career when your work has been your identity can lead to increased mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, a loss of purpose, and lower self-esteem.”
Research has found that every month of unemployment that passes can significantly impact one’s self-esteem – especially for young adults.