What do you do for a living?

Throughout my life, I’ve held many jobs.  I’ve been an assistant manager, a receptionist, restaurant server, daycare teacher, public school teacher, college instructor, tutor, program coordinator, personal aide, babysitter, and probably some others I’ve forgotten.  Each job was important.  They all had worth and merit, at least to me they did.  It was to others that they didn’t.  When I stopped teaching, I was shocked at how many people felt I was wasting my degrees.  First, choosing to further my education, regardless of how I use that education, is not a waste.  Learning is never a waste.  Second, every amount of education I have has made me who I am.  I am not a waste, therefore my education wasn’t either.  People have this misconception that if you’re trained in a certain field, then you should be in that field.  I’m a restless person, filled with wants and wishes and hopes.  I change my mind a lot.  I used to believe this was because I was lazy, couldn’t make a commitment, and didn’t really know what I wanted.  This is far from the truth.  It really means that I’m constantly pursuing a better version of myself.  It means I believe that my happiness, my satisfaction with myself and my life is worth pursuing.  No one else has to live in my body.  They don’t look in the mirror and see me.  I see me, and it’s ok that I want to see a happy me looking back.  In my opinion, our society places far too much emphasis on the identity careers provide.  When filling out paperwork recently, I realized I was unreasonably frustrated because I didn’t know what to answer regarding my job.  I’m not exactly anything really.  I found myself feeling like I needed to put something down, something to show, to prove my worth.  That’s not a healthy way to view myself.  No matter what my current “job” is, my very existence is a contribution in itself.  A job is not who I am, nor does it encompass everything I will be.  Every person is more than their job, and every job is important.  Some jobs are paid, and some are not.  Some are well-regarded and others are what teachers use to scare kids into college.  We’ve got to do better than this.  My kids should not be taught to think less of me because I’m not the breadwinner, nor should they be taught to think less of a breadwinner who literally smells like bread when their work day ends.  People deserve to be valued.  When we label people based on employment, it’s highly exclusive.  There are people with disabilities and chronic illness unable to be gainfully employed.  Do they not matter?  Do they not impact the people around them?  There are also people who work less than they could because they have family members who need them.  Caring for people of all ages is often unpaid work, but arguably more necessary than any other work.  Several months back, after rushing around in the morning, making sure that Porch Kitty was fed, that the boys had fed Bella, and that all the dishes were in the sink, with some self-deprecation, I told my husband, “all I do is feed everyone.”  Without hesitation, he told me, “and it’s the most important work in the house”.  To the people who love us, what we do, the ripples we make, the touches we leave, we really do have the most important jobs in the world.  Viewing some jobs as important and others not is hurtful.  Viewing people who have employment as more beneficial to society versus people who do not can be a form of disability discrimination, as well as discrimination against caregivers and any number of other categories of people.  There should not be shame because I don’t currently earn a check with my name on it.  Instead, there should be appreciation for me being me, and you should be appreciated for you being you. 

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