Who am I again?

For a long time, I’ve thought of my job as “just a job.” One that I’m oh-so-lucky to be able to do from home. Working at home for the last 10 years has certainly propagated that feeling — writing for a living is just what I do from my office (a spare bedroom) in between gardening, laundry, cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, blogging (aka “real life”).

But as work has been painfully slow this year (in contrast to a very busy last year), I’m feeling a loss of identity in addition to a loss of income. Losing a job really does make you feel…marginalized? aimless?  — who am I if I don’t have a job?

I’m sure it’s the fact that I’m supposed to be working that makes the difference. If I didn’t have a job on purpose, that would be fine. I’d be happy (really happy) being a “housewife.”

But, now I’m just a loser non-breadwinner — a condition I can tolerate for a little while (there have been slow times before), but eventually I’m going to have to remedy. Never having worked retail or restaurant, I’m intimidated by that prospect, but it would be a good old-dog-new-tricks experience. (Maybe I’d be good at it, having had a lifetime of knowing what I don’t like from service providers. Or maybe I’d be fired because I’d be terrible at working with the public.)

Maybe it’ll be back to an office.


Really, don’t know if I could stomach that at this point — the meetings, the politics, the performance reviews, the having to sit there and look busy even when you’re not. I get sick just thinking about it.

Or maybe, as has always happened before, business will pick up and I’ll once again be successfully self-employed. That’s what I’m hoping for.

In the meantime, I’m secretly enjoying the downtime if not the empty wallet and dwindling savings. The sun does still shine, the flowers do still bloom, and the chores still need to be done, even when you’re under-employed. Time to get busy being useful at something.

Nobody can think straight who does not work.
Idleness warps the mind.
~ Henry Ford


  1. Robin said,

    Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at 11:58 am

    I feel your pain Chris. Sounds like we are in the same boat. Business is very slow at this end too. Maybe we could both get the same shift at WalMart. Can you say, “Welcome to WalMart”? I’ve been practicing “Thank you for shopping WalMart.” Hey, employee discount in their garden center would be a real bonus.

  2. WritingbyEar said,

    Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Robin, my neighbor runs the garden center at the WalMart in Delmont…so, I have an in for us…

  3. robbie said,

    Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Self esteem crisis or simply coping problems? Do you need a label (owner, housewife, breadwinner, employee, employer)? Sounds to me like you’re having an identity crisis. A loser……I don’t think so. Anyone starting and running his/her own business for so many years is hardly a loser. While you manage this crisis remember the important things in life…. health, happiness, fun, and love (sounds like advice on Lifetime or from O). Maybe all you’re saying is you need a change?

  4. WritingbyEar said,

    Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Definitely not a good coper. And, a change from not having enough work/income would be nice… (although a change to work I like better would be even nicer — as I tell everyone, this is the longest I’ve ever worked at the same job. How do people do it for years on end at the same place?). I agree — focusing on what matters is key. On a beautiful evening like this, a long walk is in order!

  5. concerned said,

    Thursday, May 21, 2009 at 8:47 am

    I agree with robbie. You’ve been an inspiration to all of us who are attempting the self-employment route.

    Some thoughts:
    – Be careful about tying self esteem to earning power. If we all did that, we’d be permanently down in the dumps because we’re not Bill Gates.
    – What is it that you’d rather be doing to make a living? Any idea? Maybe writing down what your ideal job looks like can help you to make some steps in that direction.
    -Try something new that will give you experience toward that preferred job you’d rather have (take a class, volunteer, look for a part-time job)
    -Start on a project you’ve always wanted to attempt for yourself (Write a novel? Create a website about how to create a beautiful home and garden on a budget? A blog on how to make good decisions about antique purchases?).–Inevitably as soon as you get yourself into something like this, the phone will ring. The clients will come back, and you’ll realize that you are really good at what you do, and that maybe you like it after all.

    Hang in there, I feel your pain, and sometimes I’m right there with you.

  6. WritingbyEar said,

    Thursday, May 21, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Well thank you, concerned. I wish I knew what I wanted to do “next.” Figuring out I wanted to do THIS was pretty easy — a logical progression. Next? No clue. But I very much appreciate your ideas on how to get started. It’s so helpful to get outside perspective on something when you’re stuck on the inside. Thank you!

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