Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I've had a perpetual, internal debate playing out in my mind. Suffice it to say, I've yet to announce a victor so I'm bringing it to the public. Let me just cut to the chase. Does your job define you? Or more specifically, should it? If it doesn't, what does?

My job does not define me. My career may, but what I do from 9am to 5pm every day most surely does not. Therefore, I'm constantly left with the nagging question: Should it? Part of me thinks it should. I should love what I do. When I'm awake from 7am, okay - who am I kidding, 8am until 11pm, I'm working for eight of those hours and at home for six. Shouldn't the majority of my day be spent doing something I'm proud to say I do? Or, is there something to be said for not caring what brings in my paycheck because it does just that; it pays the bills. It allows me the freedom to leave work at work and be attentive to more important things in my life.

The former is exemplified by none other then my husband. Being a teacher can be rewarding in and of itself, so I'm not surprised to hear good stories when Shawn gets home from work. You should hear some of the great stories though. Those are the stories that make my husband beam and make me automatically jealous. Not jealous of his profession (heavens no, there's a reason I work with computers all day), but jealous of his love for it, how obviously great he is at it and how much reward he gets from it.  No, it isn't always good, but it's always something he's proud to talk about and say he does. Shawn's job definitely defines him. Anyone who knows him knows he talks the talk and walks the walk. Yes, sometimes to a point of complete annoyance but there's something to be said for truly loving what you do and being defined by the career you've chosen.

The latter is where I feel I come in. I'm lost somewhere in the Bermuda love triangle when it comes to my job, my career and my home. On one hand, I'd love to be able to quit my day job. On the other, I'm proud to be employed and doing something in the artistic field and like I said before, I can leave work at work and pay some bills with my paycheck. Ultimately though, neither compares to the importance of my home and it's contents. My home envelops everything most important to me in life: family, friends, Norman, my house. So shouldn't that very phrase "everything most important to me in life" be evidence enough of what defines me? Shouldn't what I consider to be home, define me? Maybe, but it doesn't either. It doesn't because it lacks what I love to do as an artist. It's a catch-22.

At the end of the day, I'm proud to be a graphic designer, or better yet, an artist, but I can't say it's what defines me.  Nothing is more important to me then home but I can't say that completely defines me either. I don't know what defines me and I think that's what I have the hardest time with. I know it doesn't have to be just one thing but it seems if it were, life would be a heck of a lot simpler. I'm guessing it has something to do with being of the female persuasion and basically wanting to do it all and more emphatically, needing to do it all perfectly.

Although I've digressed to a philosophical arena, my question remains: If you don't love what you do everyday, should you try and get a different job or chose a different career path? Keep in mind that the search itself adds stress, time and commitment you might have otherwise dedicated to your home. Or, do you continue on with your job and daily routine, even though you don't love it, because it allows you the freedoms you want at home and gives you time to concentrate on more important things? Ultimately, how important is a career? Is it just a job or should it be a life's work?


  1. This is n't the answer for everyone but so far, it has been for me. Being self-employed affords my life to accept a variety of activities. Having not been bound by an employer, I may not make as much money as most but I can do what I love (work, meet people where they're at)and I can also do what I love (volunteering work for the W-ELCA and attending to babies and geriatric family members). I get the best of it all! and Randy supports me-never saying a cross word!! Lovin' the posts :)

  2. I'm sure you can guess where I stand on the subject as I attempt to move from one self-employment arena (that I loathe) to another (which I am passionate about). That said, I have put up with the pain that is transcription for the last 5 years in order to (1) pay the bills, (2) allow Ole to attend graduate school to pursue his passion, (3) stay home with our kids, (4) pay the bills. Ahem, did I mention that I pay the bills?

    I don't think it's necessarily ideal. Do I get frustrated? Yes. However, I also know that I will be stuck here in this self-employment disaster that is transcription and editing until the cows come home if I don't do something about it. So I've been trying to do something about it, and as it turns out, that makes the work that I'm trying to leave that much worse. Everything is exemplified because I now have this other thing in my life that I'm cheating on my full-time job with. This other thing that brings in some income, but not quite enough yet.

    All that to say I don't know the answer to the question, but I do know that I'm not going to continue going on in the job that I hate just because it puts food in my kids' mouths and pays for the roof over their heads. Instead, I'm branching out, trying something new, but it also comes at a price, at least for now. I can't quit my job, so I am attempting to do both. I'm alone with no free time, no hobbies to speak of. I don't have time to relax, watch a movie or read a book these days, but I'm hoping that the payoff in the end will be worth the sacrifices I make today.

    I hope you figure out what you need to do to be happy with the work-life balance or at least at peace with it.

  3. A part of me thinks, a job is just a job. Serves the purpose of bringing money in so you can enjoy life with your family. Another part of me thinks you have to enjoy it or so much of your life is spent working for something you don't love...and how depressing is that?! I love my kids...are there days when I want to poke my eyes out? YES! But in the end, I can't see myself doing anything else! (Except being a stay at home mom and that is a whole blog post in and of itself!) I say...do what you love. If you aren't happy, make a change. No regrets, right?

  4. hey cous' for years I was THE bread winner for a huge chunk of my family. Knowing I needed to make 'good' money, and having an affinity for computer languages, I became a Systems Engineer, programmer, project manager-- anything in IT because in my 20's and 30's, that is where the money was. And mostly I didn't like it. But there were some good things -- I enjoyed learning new things, I enjoyed being the 'go to' person for a project and I really enjoyed being able to pay my bills, help out my Dad and some of my siblings and still have some to do some travel. In fact, I gave myself a cool trip almost every year just to get away and do something I loved.

    And then, my world 'settled' and I felt free to begin exploring what I really wanted to do. I was 36 and I went for it...and slowly, little changes and I did it. I found the dream -- and today I am living it.

    I am hoping it won't have to wait until you are in your 30's or even 40's. But what I'm saying is, I truly believe in Ecclesiastes 3 -- there is a time and a purpose under heaven...for everything. And really, someday you will realize that its not a job, a town, volunteer work or even your kids (GASP) that define you. Its something deep in you that grows, changes and bends with all that life is...good and bad.

    I love you. YOU define you.



You might also like: