I don't know what I am

I got a letter in the mail the other day.  At first it made me chuckle, and then it made me a little sad. 

But first, a bit of a preface...

This time last year, I was consumed with the impending Professional Engineer exam.  You may remember.  Aside from working 40 hours a week, doing all the normal work involved in raising three children, and attending a 2-day-a-week boot camp, I was waking up at 4am to study for the exam before I started my day. 

I got by with a little help from my friend.  

October 29th rolled around and I sat for six of the most mentally exhausting hours I can remember in my well-examined life.  Less than one month later, I was laid off from my job of five years, a realization that was as painful for me as it was for my boss. 

Just after the New Year, I got a thin envelope from the testing company.  In two short, but oh-so-sweet words, I passed.  The irony was so thick it almost dripped out of the envelope.  All that I'd worked for in my past five years of the "real world" and the prior four years of engineering school had finally come to fruition.  I had attained my license as a professional engineer.

And I didn't even have a job.

Fast forward to now. 

I walked back from the mailbox with a letter in my hand from the Georgia Society of Professional Engineers addressed to my whole formal name, complete with my PE license number, inviting me to a dinner and reception in honor of the new professional engineers from the October 2010 and April 2011 exams. 

I'm not sure why it startled me.  But it did.  Here I am, nearly a year later, feeling as though that was a lifetime ago.  And, honestly, I don't know what I am these days.

Whenever I have time to kill (aka - the breather I catch from a 25 minute episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse), I sit down to fill out internet surveys in exchange for swagbucks so I can trade those in for $5 Amazon.com giftcards.  This is how I "earn my keep".  If I don't make a salary, I can at least earn $5 Amazon cards, right?  (So silly/ridiculous/unnecessary, but this is how my mind works.) 

On almost every one of those surveys, it asks my employment status - full-time at home, full-time out of the home, part-time at home, part-time out of the home, self-employed, full-time homemaker, currently unemployed, retired.

I never know what to pick.  Am I a homemaker?  Or am I unemployed?  At this point, I have settled into my role at home, but I still think of myself as unemployed because had I not been laid off, I would absolutely still be working.  I haven't given up on going back to work, but I am also a realist who knows that civil/environmental engineering jobs are not exactly plentiful in central Georgia at this time.  On top of that, we are now having little Shep #4 in March, so I have a desire to put the hardcore job search off until then, especially if I pursue teaching. 

I don't know what I am.  And when I stop to think about it, this is incredibly frustrating for me.  I have always liked to put people in boxes and categories.  And I don't seem to fit into one right now. 

I've always had an all-or-nothing perspective on life and accomplishments.  Maybe it's time for a paradigm shift.  I can't expect myself to be everything to everyone all of the time.  What I need is to be who I can be, as best as I can be, with no excuses.  And if I do that, who cares what box I fit into? 

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.  Colossians 3:23

P.S. - It might not hurt to wake up and say to myself, "You is kind.  You is smart.  You is important."  Who's with me?


Melissa said...

I'm with you.

A Homemaker

Debbie said...

I is with you! I think we all need an Abilene to remind us sometimes.

I relate to this very well. I remember having jury selection when I was newly staying at home. They asked me for an occupation, and I felt the need to say that I was a teacher currently home full time. Somehow, I felt they needed to know that. Sigh.

I love that verse. In fact, when I taught at the Christian school, it was written on a big banner across my room. (I still have it. I hung it in my SS class until a few weeks ago.) My students wrote it on the top of every paper.

Jennie, you is kind, you is smart, you is important. (Of course, you is also never going to look at chocolate pie the same again, is you?)

Debbie said...

Oh! And I forgot to tell you that I read the incredible Sarah post. Based on many stories I have heard over the years, she sounds just like Denise. Seriously.

I, on the other hand, was a perfect child.

Sharon said...

I's be hearing you!

Oh, the angst of not really having a handle on *where we're at* or who we are at a particular time in life. I think the time it hit me the hardest was when my youngest went off to college. OK, now what...

For my blog, I came up with that catchy (OK, I liked it anyway) acronym:
COLEN - "Change Of Life Empty Nester" - and that does sorta define my role, but not who I am.

So, not to sound trite, but this is the only one that counts - I AM A CHILD OF GOD.

Because, you see, it encompasses ALL the other things I do and say and am. It will dictate the way I live whether I am home or employed, young or old, earning a paycheck or Amazon bucks.

It is the only *label* that does NOT fit me into a box.

Embrace yourself, Jennie - God does. And His journey with you is just entering some *new* territory (to you, anyway...rumor has it that He's already there!)

Love you.


Post a Comment

Before you go, I'd love to hear from you! Let me know what's on your mind! (Please and thank you.)

Back to Top