It's taken me quite some time to write this post. It's been lurking in my Drafts folder for over a year. Maybe closer to 18 months. It's taken me so long to hit Publish because I wasn't ready. The conversation we're going to have today (and I hope you leave a comment to make this a conversation) is something that rolled around in my heart and head for a while. You see, I am a successful 30-year-old woman who has held various positions in life. For some of which I am proud, others not-so-much. I needed to have some time to live this blog post. To find it and test it and live it and struggle with it.
If I am going to be honest, I struggle with it now as I type.
So, out with it already, right?! I am not a person that defines myself by my career. I used to be, although not so much anymore. Let me be clear, I really, really enjoy my job as a coach for new teachers. There are some days I would repeat over and over again because they were so wonderful and fulfilling. Of course, there are other days that completely throw me off balance and make me question a job change just to avoid the pressures of the work.
Regardless of the work that I do to earn an income, it is not my income or that work which defines me. I was talking with some new friends that I connected with at the Women in Nature retreat (Hey Lindsay and Erin!) and we chatted about how for this very reason introductions are sometimes hard.
For example, I might introduce a friend as, "Kara, my friend who works as an in-home physical therapist assistant". When in actuality, her job doesn't describe her as a person in any way. It gives no relevant information about her, simply her job. Instead, I could introduce her as, "Kara, my friend of over 20 years who is a fantastic mom and has a huge heart."
Depending on the context of an introduction, sharing a persons work - their career - is essential. I get it. Have we taken it too far? I think we have. Throughout my 20s I defined myself solely has a teacher. High school language arts and journalism.
That was it. I had nothing else to offer. I was (am) a great educator with a bachelor and masters degree in education, with not much other value outside of the classroom. I am funny, and caring, and have a heart for all things living - but those things didn't define me. They were little things.
We often, mistakenly define ourselves by our careers. Our work. What makes us money and pays for our dental insurance.
That's not what defines you, my friend, and we both know it.
You and I are defined by our passions, our character, how we bless others and how we use the blessings given to us.
We are defined by how we treat others, how we treat our earth, and how we treat the creatures on this earth.
Our ability to be generous - in any capacity and every form - helps us create our definition.
This post is so hard to write because now what?! Where do we go from here? Do we all quit our jobs and go around complimenting each other about how kind we are and how passionate we are about knitting? (I know some of you gave it some thought.)
No, no. We must feed ourselves and pay for our goods and services.
If we aren't defining ourselves by our careers anymore, that means we need to shift our focus from our work to ourselves. Our families. Our passions. The things that light a fire in our bellies.
For me that means taking the extra 10% from the 110% that I exude in my day job and divert that to the 'things' that define me. If I am going to give anything extra, it will be given to those things that give me butterflies, make me lightheaded with excitement, and make my face numb with joy.
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