Embodying my values

There are a few days left to respond to this months prompt (Refer back to The Invitation if you have questions about what we’re doing here). Here, Deven Wisner shares his thoughts on our prompt: What does it look like to go to work with your values intact?

For a long time, I was seeking the distinction and convergence of my personal life and work. I wanted to know where one stopped, the other ended, and where there was overlap. At the time, I thought it was something to be determined overtime — but was never really satisfied. Not long after that, I began [kind of] jokingly saying, “I live in this dichotomy. There are two lives I lead.” And for a while, I justified it through concepts like work-life balance (gotta separate the two, right??). Or, how no one besides my evaluator friends and partner have any idea what the hell I do. Years passed, and I began to recognize bodily reactions to situations in my personal life (childhood social circles, family). Tightness in my chest, arms, and shoulders. Restlessness in legs — especially in my feet. 

Ah…this wasn’t separation of work life, or that my family’s understanding of my work is superficial and shallow at best. No, my values were being compromised. The sadness, the anger, the seemingly uncharacteristic defensiveness and irritability. These were all the byproducts of living in a space where I could grow, explore, and exemplify my values and then returning to a space where it felt unheard. 

Then there was the guilt. How could it take me so long to realize what was going on? 

Okay. Stop, subconscious. You don’t get the voice here.

This was an exercise and experience of self-awareness. Of humility. And now, of transparency. All of these are values in which I carry with me closely. This is the process. It sometimes feels dirty, unappealing, and even sickening. When I let them, my values still showed up. They helped me find where the disconnect was. It was the “work” space that gave me the freedom to explore them, the confidence to live them, and taught me to demand the space to do this throughout my life — living it with fewer boundaries and conflicts. 

So, when I think about what it means to bring my values to the work, I feel a sense of relief. The pressing sensation in my stomach, tightness in my arms and shoulders — they’re softened. It’s the settling of conflict between what I hold close to me as important and what is situationally expected or deemed as okay

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