Does this look familiar?
Been there. More than a few times. You?
Having just spent a Thanksgiving holiday with Son #1, aged 23 and working in his first full-time, post-college job, while Son #2, aged 21, spent the same holiday 3,000 miles away with cousins since he’s studying on the east coast this semester...let’s just say I’ve been thinking a good deal about those delightful life crossroads.
Son #1 is happy. Loves his job. But people are already asking him, “What’s next? Gonna stick with that? Thinking about grad school? What do you want to BE when you grow up?”
Son #2 has it worse. About to graduate in spring of next year, he’ll soon face that dreaded question, “So…?” (I’ll let you fill in the blanks.)
Thing is, even though I’m the same age as a pack of cards (without the jokers, thank you very much), I can totally relate to the whole transition thing. Walking away from my teaching job was the most terrifying and exhilarating thing I’ve ever done.
It wasn’t even because of finances. I’m lucky enough to be married to someone with a superb retirement plan, so we knew we could afford for me to take a huge, ginormous pay cut. It was the IDENTITY.
If I’m not a teacher anymore…what AM I?
Watching my kids begin that first, gradual accumulation of job-related identity, I wonder: which is the greater blessing: to be able to define ourselves through our work, or to be able to shake off those identities and see what’s underneath?
I sure know which one is scarier. But I think, given what we find beneath those layers accrued from years of work, it may also be the greater blessing, in the end.
What do you think? How many major job changes have you been through? Do you think the rewards are worth the terror? Let me hear!
just spent a delightful (belated, Thursday is no holiday here) Thanksgiving dinner with my entire family, both kids, daughter in law, grandson, niece + partner and some friends….
My job changes: studied fashion design, after that lost interest, – worked some, – studied nursing in England…. didn’t finish due to the death of my mother – worked some – became secretary to Konrad Lorenz…. worked somewhere else…. got married, raised kids, learned pottery, worked in a school for handicapped kids, finally became a potter ;-). I actually liked all of my jobs, or at least most of them ;-).
Monika, you are quite a role model. So many identities, but all part of one whole.
I admire your courage, and it seems like a special thing to be able to share your understanding of transitional identities with your sons. It’s true that our jobs form a lot of our identities. Even though there are other things I’d like to try, I’m not sure how I’d extricate myself from how I define myself and how the world defines me in my work. I appreciate how you put all this into words!
“Extricate” is the right word, for sure. Thanks, Jodi.