When Our Work is Our Worth

When our work is our worth, I am often a penny.
I am less than that of which can be exchanged.
Conversations with my loved ones consist mostly of matters of convenience.
When our work is our worth, academia is an assessment.
And deviating from the norm is a failing grade.
In this way, we groom any underperforming neurodivergent, mentally ill, disabled, or underprivileged people to view themselves as ne’er-do-wells.
We beg them to assimilate, to “try harder”, and to deny their circumstances as valid.
When our work is our worth, sleep is a primitive activity.
Oversleeping is an act of defiance.
Think of how that is a word.
When our work is our worth, professionalism is a societal expectation.
And stimming, and awkward pauses, and uncomfortable honesty, and avoiding eye contact are signs of immaturity.
We must know how to serenade our captors, the employers.
When our work is our worth, productivity is a personal and public requirement.
My friends believe that they are operating incorrectly for merely taking a step back.
And so do I.
When our work is our worth, poverty is a punishment.
We have simply not done enough to warrant comfort.
Our needs are an individual issue.
When our work is our worth, the government is an economic weapon, striking down what doesn’t generate profit and stealing all that does.
Avoidable deaths are failures to act according to plan.
If our worth was our existence, maybe our lives would finally be cherished.
Maybe our identities would be cause for celebration.
Maybe I’d be more than a set of numbers on a card.
When our work is our worth, I am an item.
And I would like to be more than that.