Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Are You Defined by Your Job?

My husband and I are very different people. Sure, we have commonalities that helped us bond at the beginning of our relationship, but our vantage points of the world and life often differ in the starkest of ways.

Nowhere is this more true than our perceptions of work and identity. When I think of who I am, the first things that come to mind are generally occupational (including motherhood.) When I'm overwhelmed with life, rather than taking a break, I throw myself into my work to find peace. I like to think of myself as someone who is cultivating her entire self, but the truth is my default identity is tied closely to my occupational pursuits.

That's not necessarily a horrible thing. If you work hard enough, you can become a leader in your field. You're often a good provider. But there are also some extremely negative aspects. If you become a workaholic, your family can start to feel neglected. If something negative happens with your job, your self-esteem most likely plummets. Your value comes from your endeavors in your industry, and not from within.

My husband is the polar opposite. He's never viewed his job as who he is, but rather as something he does. He projects this image to all those around him. When I look at him, I don't see an occupation; I see a whole person. A father. A husband. A brother. A son. A friend. A sports-lover. Someone who loves to laugh. Someone who loves to make others laugh. Someone who's stubborn in his opinions. Someone who doesn't do dishes as often as I'd like him to. Someone who cares deeply for those around him.

He has a strong work ethic. He provides for our family. At one point in our relationship, he supported me when I was in school, and had no job. But he doesn't let that work consume him. He doesn't always have a tab open in his brain about his job. He shuts it off. Because while the job is important, it doesn't define him.

Sometimes I'd like to close my work tab. I'd like to worry less about security and more about what's happening right in front of me. I feel like that's going to be a long process including some deep soul-searching. I feel like it's going to be difficult, and I don't really know how to get there. But luckily I have someone near me to emulate. I have someone to learn from.

As I start this process, I want to pose a question to you: Is there someone close to you that you've learned a positive behaviour from? One that has helped you become a better person or function in life? It doesn't have to be a spouse or partner. It could be a family member, coworker, friend...the list is endless.


  1. This is interesting. I'm also defined by my work while my husband is not. He has many hobbies which make a big difference. My hobbies are reading, working out and my blog, but I'm quick to drop all of them if I'm stressed at work. I've actually set a goal to reinvent myself as well. I'm starting to seriously think about retiring early or to do something else with the rest of my life. I've spend too many years sitting at a desk making journal entries. Looking forward to watching your progress.

    1. Thanks, Savvy! I love your new goals, too. How do we become so addicted to that desk?


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