Am I a WAHM? A SAHM? Employed part-time outside the home?
In a way, I think it’s all of the above.
When I resigned from full time employment back in August, I had a lot of complicated emotions associated with it. I’ve always worked. Always. I counted down the days until my 15th birthday when I could get a job at King’s Dominion, and have never gone more than a few months at a time without a job since–and those months were while I was in college, in between seasonal assignments. My role in society has always felt defined by my job. College psychology classes only made this more obvious to me. Once I had my daughter, I felt defined by being a working mother. It was a struggle, and I can’t say it was a role I always enjoyed, but it’s who I was. It was the example I was setting for my daughter, and how I related to the people around me.
So leaving work? What did that mean about me? About who I was?
As it turns out? It means I’m going back to me. Working me always felt like I was wearing a mask. And by the time I got home, I was so tired from wearing that mask, I just wanted to hide. It was hard interacting with my family on the weekends, and I never wanted to leave the house if I didn’t have to. I know unfulfilling jobs fed my depression. As an introvert, it took every spare ounce of social energy I had just to get through the workday, and time away from work was never enough time to recharge. Even when I was on the road, alone in a hotel room a couple of nights a week–it was lonely. It wasn’t comfortable.
We hike so much more now. We’re getting friends out on the trail with us, because I have enough social energy to spend it, well, socially. I’m volunteering for a local political campaign. I have finally been able to attend hikes with the RVA Hike It Baby, and get to know some of the moms there. (And I’ve applied to be a Trailblazer for the 10K Women Trail Project, which means even more opportunity to get my less-outdoorsy friends out on the trail and involved in my favorite activity!)
I am also in the interview process to be a Tinkergarten instructor, which means even more time outdoors, and with kids.
Because that’s where I am learning I come the most alive. Spending time with kids, and spending time with kids outside. It’s why my photography business is centered around children and families, and in taking photos of clients outdoors.
There’s something magical that happens, when kids get into nature, and get to explore at their own pace. I love getting out on longer trails with my family, but I love the HiB hikes, even though they are often shorter, because of the interaction between the kids. To see how fearless they become, how engaged they are with their sensory input. If I could have a dream job, I think it would be to take pictures of families on the trail, because that would combine my three greatest loves: children, art, and the outdoors.
Any career coach or mentor will agree on the single most important piece of advice for living a great life: do work you enjoy. And I have to agree.