When we moved out to the farm, we had a lot of discussions about things we knew were going to be difficult.
For example, no air conditioning. Like, we’ve had no air conditioning before – in the upstairs part of a home built in 1930. It’s brutal. You come home after being in your icy air conditioned car (play that hit radio station! Taylor Swift! Kanye! I can listen to anything in this 72 degree ice box!) and go to your space and get hit with this depressing wall of heat that makes you second guess living in North America.
But we thought for sure that being in a giant metal box with no air conditioning would be worse. But turns out, when you live in a small valley in the foothills of the mountains, it’s really not terrible when you don’t have air conditioning. So things turned out okay on that end. I digress.
Truthfully though, there was a long list of things we knew would be tricky. Being away from family, getting our water from a small tank instead of a never ending reservoir, no best friends here, no more pour-over coffee (seriously. They don’t do it here.)
One thing that completely blindsided me, however, was not teaching.
We were so wrapped up in our move, in the transition of Daniel’s job to something he loved, that we overlooked the fact that my career and identity were going to change drastically.
The first week, when I wasn’t weeping over lack of good tacos, were pretty good. I’m one of those freaks of nature who started working full-time at 21; so I’d never given myself a chance to really have a duty-free life. I was travelling, going hiking, reading all the books, organizing, downsizing, etc. If it ended in –ing, then I was doing it.
But by like day four, I was kind of a mess. I missed my students. I missed my coworkers. I missed purpose.
This lack of employment hit me most when I would meet new people. It went like this:
Person: Well, and what do you do?
Victoria: …… uh
Person: Like for your job? Your career?
Victoria: I…. was… a teacher… once.
It didn’t even really get better once I started being a substitute teacher. Convo as follows:
Person: What do you do for a living?
Victoria: I’m a substitute teacher (hangs head in shame).
Person: That’s cool.
Victoria: BUT I WAS A SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHER!!!! JUST A MONTH AGO! I WAS IMPOOOOOORTANNNNNTTTTTT!!!!
The realization hit me pretty hard.
I found a lot of how I defined myself in my job.
The funny thing was, that I was pretty certain I did not do that. The church I attended for the majority of my time in KC really challenged people to look at who they were and what they liked to categorize themselves as when talking to people. The idea there, was that we’re so busy being “Musician! Yoga teacher! Barista! Manager!” that we forget that our primary identity should be in Christ.
So I felt, that I had a pretty good hold on that. I didn’t feel like I had to drop my career title in every conversation. I tried to not be one of those teachers that tells school stories that leave non-teachers gaping open-mouthed like guppies (or for teachers, like middle-schoolers at a school assembly).
But all of a sudden, when we moved here and I had no job anymore, I felt like I needed people to know what I was, once.
I felt totally unmoored by our move, and the fact that I was a teacher also being gone left me in a really strange place. I needed people to know that I was once someone who helped change lives! Yes, I was working as a social servant!
Why do we seek so much acclaim in our careers? Is it right and good that when I left my job I felt like I lost myself? As with everything, there’s probably a balance here. It’s excellent to have pride in your job. It’s awesome. But I think I needed to pay attention to how I went reeling when I didn’t have that job anymore.
It’s do feel like as the months have gone on, I have able to let go of that need more and more. As a human, I felt so inclined to be defined (rhyme time) by something. I needed a starting point for people to understand me, for people to grasp at who I am.
And it’s okay for that not to be work. It can be so many other things. We are more than the sum of our parts.
Like, I am more than some crazy white girl who is organic farming with no air conditioning trying to get people to buy her heirloom carrots (NO SYNTHETIC FERTILIZERS WERE USED!).
I’m me! And I just happen to be a vegetable pawnbroker ex-teacher. But you don’t need to know that to know me 🙂