January 21, 2019
Third post in the Path to Employment series.
At this point I need to "step out" of the story of how I found a job and what I'm currently doing for work and talk about some of my hopes, dreams, motivations and insecurities. The stuff underneath my behaviors and actions that explains those behaviors and actions.
I'm a 43 year old homeschool mom almost done raising kids. I have an immediate financial need for a part-time job but the long term need for financial security into my old age. Damien and I have no old-age savings or investments, we have no savings period. That needs to change and I need to be part of that change.
I don't want to work a string of random jobs or projects for the rest of my 25+ employment years, I want a meaningful career.
The career might entail different jobs and projects but I want there to be a theme and a trajectory to my work. And I want to be able to name it as something - teacher, researcher, writer, entrepreneur, doctor, professor, software engineer, you know, a title. (By the way, I don't actually want to be some of these things, they're just examples.) And if not a title, some phrase that summarizes, encapsulates the work I do. Basically, I want clarity about my vocation.
Theoretically, that should be possible, but unlike my first career which had a clear path (have babies, feed, educate, and raise those babies) as well as plenty of role models in my cultural context, I don't have a concrete path to follow for the next stage of my journey. And I don't know who the role models are either (lots of my peers are still homeschooling). But I'm actively looking, and I've been reaching out to those of you who are further along the journey.
All the unknowns make me nervous. There are big changes coming with kids growing up, there are immediate financial concerns, there are long-term needs and desires.
Do I have what it takes to meet those needs? Can I build myself a second stage of adult life career? The answer to both these questions is yes, but the "how" and "what" is murky.
I'm dealing with insecurity at a few levels in my "entering the workforce" experience.
There is the "insecurity" of my future - where am I going? There is the insecurity I perceive in the world outside the safety of home. And there is the insecurity, or maybe more accurately, a sense of inadequacy, to the task of building a career for myself that meets the financial, spiritual, and intellectual needs I have for work. I don't want a job that just takes care of the finances, I want to grow intellectually, and express myself creatively and spiritually.
And I want to feel safe.
All of it sounds like a really tall order!
Homemaking and homeschooling as the first twenty years of my adult life has removed me, in large part, from the working world. And I loved that distance.
I think one of the reasons I was so keen to be a homemaker and homeschooler is because it allowed me to create my own alternate reality, a safe and secure home.
I love the shelter and structures of home for growing kids and growing love. While Damien has provided for our physical needs with income-earning work, my work has created a safe environment for emotional, spiritual, and intellectual growth. (Not to mention everyone's physical well-being with all the cooking I did for many years.)
It has been deeply satisfying and meaningful work for me.
So much of what I do is motivated by my need for safety and security and I find that in the structures and relationships I've created in my home. The working world, the world outside the love of my family doesn't feel safe. It feels like you have to wear an armour. It feels like people can cut you down. It feels like competition and jockeying for position. It feels like having to prove yourself and your worth. It feels like having to be of economic value. It feels like unsustainable growth and proving your value by how much you contribute to the bottom line. Ugh.
I suspect it's not as bad as I perceive it to be. And I suspect that certain industries, organizations, and sectors of the workforce are a better fit for me than others. And I also know that who I am, the ways I function, what I bring, will make an important contribution to the broader community, to a project, a workplace, a vision.
My work will help create the kind of world I want to live in, the same way I did in building a home and family. That's the goal.
Coming out of a season of monthly financial insecurity with the real need to invest in our future, I also know that I will be seeking a certain measure of financial security in my work. Of course what this looks like for me, in our life situation and values is different than for other people, but it's a driving factor that will definitely influence my path and my decision making.
Can I do this? Yes, I can. (Just like the Bob the Builder videos my kids watched as preschoolers.)
In the same way I tell my kids "you've got this", I believe I can do this, but I don't really "know" yet that I can, from an experience point of view.
I think it's the same kind of doubt a newly pregnant woman faces when looking at her future. Can I do this? Can I actually raise a kid? You may believe theoretically in your ability, but you don't actually "know" from experience.
Having raised three kids I know I am competent in that realm. I have to trust the same will happen in my next career.
I have a note, pinned to my inspiration board above my desk, that says this:
To grow your confidence remember your contributions.
I swear some of us need more help with this than others, and I seem to be one of those people. (Maybe we're all "one of those people" but I have an extroverted need to recognize and have other people recognize my contributions. In other words I need to talk about them, out loud, and hear it from others, out loud.)
Remember what you've done and have been successful doing, even if it's little things, even if it doesn't relate exactly to the challenge at hand.
Remember. And talk about it, or write about it. I'm not talking here about being an arrogant ass, always talking about how great we are, how much money we make, etc. I'm talking about knowing what you need to honestly grow your confidence and doing it.
Journaling has been great for this. Doing monthly and seasonal assessments in my bullet journal of what I've learned, accomplished, and achieved is also helpful.
It's not an "easy" transition to move into the working world from the homemaking/homeschooling world, even with a few years of freelance work under my belt. And this is one of the big transitions I'm now navigating.
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