For the last seven years, I've been a librarian. Before that, I was a teacher. For a while, I've thought of myself as a writer. In less than a month, I'll be...none of those? Just a writer? I don't know. When I left the public library, I felt like I was giving up my career. Now I'm leaving my full time job, what am i giving up? Just my job? It feels like more than that. This week, I've been thinking quite a bit about what happens when you are can no longer identify yourself by your work.
Personally, I think I'm ready to shed any old titles or identifiers. At least for now. Identifying myself by my job has never really been all that easy for me. I became a teacher out of necessity. I wanted to be a librarian, but found that I struggled with the day-to-day of my first real advancement in that job. For a long, long time, I had no idea what I would do as a career or even for work. I was an English major and never certain of my prospects. I never had a true discussion about careers in regards to my studies until I was in library school. By then, I was past 30.
I believe I've chosen this year of travel in part because it will untether me from any kind of job. Truly, there are many reasons I want to do it: I want to break out of my sad shell, I want to prove to myself I can survive such an adventure, I have many places I want to see, I am drowning in anxiety that insists I stay exactly where I am no matter how unhappy it makes me. I won't officially have a job title soon and I'm hoping that will allow me to embrace just being me for a little while (and also do some work toward figuring out who I am).
I'm forcing myself to reconsider my identity. I'm also interested in how others think of their own. Do you feel like you are your job? Or your kids? Or your family? Or your hometown? Or your hobby? How often do you get the opportunity to really feel just like yourself? I don't feel I ever give myself that opportunity. That is, until school ends in a few weeks and I'm officially only just me.