I was asked a question a few days ago. Keep in mind this question comes amid a health issue and quitting my job. The question seems simple on the surface. What do you want to do?
To me, it seems people are defined by what they do…their position in life determined by their job. I feel that we value our ability to “be productive” and bring home a paycheck. There is status in being employed and non-status if you don’t work. People seem to still count stay at home parent as a job, but what happens when your house is full of legal adults instead of minors?
There is no doubt my job as a parent is incomplete even though my kids are technically adults. But I can’t seem to be a stay at home parent. I don’t fit with the parents who have school age children. I’m supposed to be DOING something now I’m an empty nester.
The person who asked me the question followed up by asking why I felt I couldn’t just be. Well, it feels weird. It seems all the people I know are working now their kids are grown. Whether it’s out of financial necessity or the pull of societal norms, people my age and in my position are working.
And I’m not. I want to work. I even applied for a few jobs this week. But, it was only half-hearted. I have between 2 and 5 medical appointments every week. I need an employer who understands disability and doesn’t penalize for needing time off. Yeah, there are so many of those now <sarcasm>. Then there is the fact that the drama that occurs in the workplace tends to cause stress which leads to medical crises for me. Even though I can work, am able to work and am highly qualified in my field, I can’t work. This sucks.
A just posted a link to a NY Times article on my personal social media page. The article talks about how the next generation is stressed by their parents “demands of success.” News flash, this article applies to all of us. Just substitute “life” for “campus” and it will make more sense. Read it here: Suicide on Campus
So, what do I want to do. I want to get healthy again. I’m entering week three of the latest medical issue and it’s getting old. I want to work, so I’ll probably go back to my volunteer job at some point. I really don’t know how to just be. I guess I should start thinking about that.
The first step is probably giving up the feelings of guilt that go with not having a paid job. I know I’m not the first person to have those feelings. I’m sure I won’t be the last. You know what would be great?
Your challenge: Reach out to someone who may be trying to adjust to a “new normal.” Let go of your notions of “value” and help someone just “be.” It’s something we will all face at some point in time.