Today my blog post is related to something that Kristine wrote about being authentic (I hope to do several future posts on this) and something from Jane's blog. I've been thinking lately about online identity and authenticity and have so much to share about this, and will soon. But to start off, I want to write about Jane. She wrote:
Lately I feel so inadequate when we're out somewhere and someone will ask what I do for a living and all I can do is sit there wishing I was invisible.
Chani. As confident and as secure as Chani was, she would feel exactly the same way as Jane and would hate this question. As many of you know, Chani lived on disability (after a long career) but would not want to discuss this with people, and yet felt uncomfortable telling people that she was "retired". She hated that people would even ask how she spent her time getting the money she lived on.
In our culture this is how we evaluate people and get to know people. It is an important cultural value that we define ourselves by how productive we are, how busy we are, and how much money we make--all three are tied together and define worth, often self-worth.
I remember years ago I was a systems analyst working for a prominent Christian ministry. I would proudly answer the question. I made a good salary and the Christian ministry was well-regarded in my town. The only thing--the only thing--I liked about this job was that I got to buy nice clothes and dress up and carry a briefcase and say I was a systems analyst. I envied bank tellers especially and other people who got to talk to people in their jobs. Or people who liked their jobs. I felt like I was in prison for eight hours a day.
Years later, ill (surprise!) with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, I was embarrassed about my lack of present career success (like Jane and Chani) and would try to think of something that "sounded good" to tell people. I was a "domestic engineer" or an "aspiring book indexer" or "consultant" (since I was occasionally able to pick up higher-level free-lance work). I still felt bad about the image I was projecting about my career success, reflecting (I thought) my worth.
Then I got involved in the online world and found like-minded people (you all wonderful ones) who I could just be myself with. This was life-changing for me. No one knew or cared how I paid my bills, or even if I paid my bills. It is a very edifying way to know people--apart from how they earn money. Even if I know about someone's career, it is just one part of who they are, not their entire identity.
I have found that this generalizes to my life offline. When people ask what I do, I tell them I'm a homemaker. I really like saying that, and I'm proud of it. If they still seem interested (usually they do not), I tell them I write reviews and have a blog, that I like to make art and enjoy encouraging people. I tell them that mostly I support my husband's career and really enjoy that.
I definitely do not enjoy most household management tasks (except laundry, which I love) but every job has aspects that are boring or mundane or distasteful. I cherish being in charge of my time, and being able to manage my time so that I can do things that I love. I can watch the weather each day and take walks in between the raindrops. I can look out on nature from my home and be inspired to write. I can read books that truly interest me. I can think and process and form opinions. I can nurture my spirituality and stay close to God. I can emotionally support my husband when he is spent at the end of the day, and then all he has to be concerned about is resting for the next day when he'll go out and conquer the world. What privileges these are!
If someone loses interest in me because I'm a homemaker, I'm kind of glad. I don't think we'd be a good match for friendship, or even good discussions. It sort of weeds out people easily, so that I can find the folks who look at who people are rather than what they do.
I feel incredibly blessed with this lifestyle, and if people don't understand I get it, but I feel like they are missing out.
My wish for each one of you (and for me, too) is that you find your place in the world doing what you love to do and that you are able to see the whole of who you are and to see others this way too--we are more than just our job, our sexuality, our spirituality, our political views, our roles--we are multi-dimensional beings. May you find the place where you can grow and blossom and thrive.
Life is so short; and how sad to have regrets at the end. I think that Chani did have many. My wish for you is to have no regrets.