My mother-in-law once told me “your job is not who you are, it’s what you do.”
But what happens when most of who you are means striving for a successful career – and then that ends abruptly?
On September 27, I found out.
That’s the day I lost my job and a big part of my identity.
One of my favorite movies is Working Girl with Melanie Griffith and Harrison Ford.
I love the whole movie, but I am partial to the last scene where Melanie Griffith is sitting in her new office on the phone with her best friend and, as the credits roll, the camera pans out and you see that her office is in a New York City high-rise. This scene was the reason I decided to go into business. I wanted to be a highly respected, suit-wearing, high-heeled businesswoman sitting in the corner office in a tall building.
That scene was the pot of gold at the end of my career rainbow.
Never was there a break in my rainbow which included staying home.
A few months before I graduated college, I already had a job lined up. I was ready to step right into the working world and begin my journey to career success and my pot of gold. For nearly 10 years, I have identified with being a career woman.
I have always known I would not be a stay-at-home mom, even after becoming a mother. Not because I hold anything against the role, but because it was not financially feasible for our family and I knew I just wasn’t programmed to do it. It’s not my personality.
For me, becoming a stay-at-home mother out of force rather than choice feels like being thrown into the deep end and asked to swim. I have to take on a new role and I feel very lost as to my place in it. And I don’t know if it’s because I didn’t get to make the choice or not, but it has been very difficult for me, mentally, to figure out where I belong and how I feel about it.
I feel inadequate and out of place by not financially contributing to our family. Even though I know I am contributing by helping to keep our house together and raising our daughter.
Over the last few weeks, I have gone through the stages of job grief – if there is such a thing – and grief over the loss of my identity. Now that I am coming through the other side, I realize the value of my contributions to our family right now. And that most certainly does not equal inadequacy.
By changing my attitude on an unfortunate situation, I can truly appreciate the time I’ve been given with my daughter.
Breakfast time is my favorite.
I love having play dates with other moms and their kids.
I finally have time to cook and bake those recipes I’ve been saving and pinning. (This also happens to be my coping mechanism.)
I even really like keeping our new house clean, no matter how many times I have to vacuum the dog hair.
And…I like the opportunity to figure out what I really want.
Losing my job was not an ending, but a beginning, an opportunity to find a new identity and a chance to reinvent myself.
I am only 30, I have many years ahead of me in the career world. Maybe this is my third-of-a-life crisis. It isn’t coming in the form of needing to do something crazy in my personal life; it comes in the form of really questioning what I want out of my working life.
I will always keep the ending scene of Working Girl in my mind as my goal, but the truth is, my corner office might be in a one-level building here in northern Colorado. Or it might be from my very own house looking toward the mountains. Who knows?
What I do know is this: I don’t want to get to my retirement and realize that I spent a lot of time doing something I wasn’t happy with or that in being unhappy with my job, I wasted a lot of time away from my family.
Becoming a mom changed a lot of things, most of which was deciding how I spend my time. I know I need to work, both for myself and for my family, but I also know that if I am going to continue as a working mother, the time I spend away from Ella has to be worth it. I am glad I get the chance to really take time to make sure that happens.
Just because one part of my life has closed does not mean that’s the end of the story. It might just be end of the first book. And that means I get to spend a little more time with my girl and a little more time on me, so that when the sequel comes out, it will be even better than the first.