Identity Crisis

How we identify ourselves (and our self worth) can be a funny thing.  I’ve found, for myself, it’s so often wrapped up in what I’m doing, rather than who I really am.

Before I became a mom, I spent 10 years working for the same company.  My life was completely wrapped up in it.  It was, in essence, my life.  And for various reasons it had to be.  It’s hard to maintain relationships when you’re traveling a lot.  And it’s hard to plan an outside life when you’re told on a Friday to book a flight for the next day and, oh, by the way, you’ll be gone for two weeks.  But that was the job.  And I enjoyed it.  It was interesting.  It was dynamic.  And it was me.

Most people knew me as ‘Jenn, who works for ***’.  It was a huge part of my identity. And it didn’t help that I was a workaholic.  Even on vacations I was expected to be available by email and phone.  But it came with the territory (and the money) and so I felt it was all worth it.

Eventually, I got noticed by some of the right people, and started on the fast track for upper management.  This is what I had worked those 10 years for.  Yay me!  Until that one morning when I woke up and realized that maybe this dream of being a VP at a major multinational wasn’t really what I wanted anymore.  I looked at my boss, and his boss.  They had no family lives.  They were so stressed it was affecting their health.  It was expected that they would be available all hours of the day and night.  And I knew that on my road to the big leagues there was going to be a lot of moving around the country and shift work involved.  If I ever wanted to have children, this was not going to work.

By this time Bil and I had been trying to start our family for a while (with little success).  He was convinced I needed to slow down, relax, and de-stress. So after many weeks of soul searching I handed in my resignation.  The plan was to take the summer off and then look for a new job in the fall.

I didn’t realize I’d spend the entire summer trying to figure out who I was.  What was my identity now that I wasn’t working?  How would people relate to me if I wasn’t that girl who worked at that company?  It was really hard. And I struggled with it.  I still do.

momcallingcardvista Identity CrisisAt the end of the summer, I found out I was finally pregnant (which came with a big dose of ‘I told you so’ courtesy of my darling husband).   So, rather than go back to work, I took the time to start my own business.  Then that became my new identity; Business Owner and Virtual Assistant.  Until, of course, I had my baby.  Then everything else was once again stripped away.  Oh, I still have my business, but now I introduce myself as ‘Jenn… Vista’s mom’.  And I like that title.  I really do.  In fact it’s one of my favorite identities so far.

But some days I’m still left wondering who I really am and whether I’m really only defined by what I do in life.

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2 Responses to Identity Crisis

  • Lisa says:

    I’m right there with you. When I left my job to become a stay at home mom after my daughter was born I took on the identity of “maya’s mom”. It was weird to have a new identity and I still struggle sometimes with who I really am now that I’m not working.

    Jenn Reply:

    @Lisa, I wonder sometimes how much of this is because we’re expected to be career women these days, rather than mothers, so we invest so much of ourselves in that role, when it’s gone we’re sort of lost.

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