“So, What Do You Do?” Identity Crisis – When You’re Not Sure of the Answer

Kel Latest 19 Comments

The Western World seems to place such importance on identity. It’s not enough to just ‘be’ – we need to define ourselves somehow. When we meet someone new, it’s never long before one or other of us utters the words, “so, what do you do?”. We know that refers to our job, our career, our living. As though this is the only thing that defines us and gives us status.

This time last year I would have answered with, “oh, I’m a childcare professional,” or words to that effect. In my career I’ve managed nurseries and a preschool. I have a relevant, sector-specific degree. I’ve had training in all sorts of subjects such as high-level child protection and safeguarding, first aid and health and safety. I was proud of my achievements, my status, my worth to the children and families I have cared for over the years.

Then, last autumn, I gave it all up. A combination of ill health, my children needing me to be around more and a falling out of love with the job led me to make one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make: I stopped going out to work.

Overnight, I went from someone to no-one. At that point, if asked, my “what do you do?” answer would have been something along the lines of, “oh, I, erm… well, I don’t. Do anything, that it. I’m just a stay-at-home mum.” Which, of course, was utter rubbish. There’s no ‘just’ about being a stay-at-home mum. I’m a wife, mother, carer, cook, cleaner, taxi driver, financial manager, personal shopper, ironing lady, teacher… the list is almost endless. But no-one says that, do they? It’s all part and parcel of being a mum. There’s no status to it. Anyone can do that.

[bctt tweet=”Overnight, I went from someone to no-one. #identitycrisis #whatdoyoudo” username=”schoolrunshop”]

So, almost a year on, and things are starting to change again. I have been working hard to try to build up my blog (as well as It’s a Tink Thing), and have been fortunate enough to be offered some fab products and services to review and write about. Recently, I did my first paid ‘job’, (it didn’t feel like ”work’, more like having fun!), so now I’ve registered as self-employed and I’m hoping it’s the first of many such opportunities.

So, what should my answer be now to the “what do you do?” question? I’ve been paid to write, so ‘stay-at-home mum’ doesn’t seem right. But it’s only my first job, so ‘freelance writer’ seems too much. ‘Blogger’ is more accurate, but is it viewed as a career, a real job? Will it show up in the list when I renew my car insurance?

I’m not sure. The jury is still out on this one (at least until I get more paid work!). For now, all I know is that I love writing and I’ll keep doing it. It makes me happy.

That’s it! “What do you do?”  “Oh, something that makes me happy!

*Edited to add: A few hours after I wrote this post, I was actually asked this very question. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t reply “oh, something that makes me happy,” but instead I still ‘ummed’ and ‘ahhed’ and ended up with ‘blogger’. The guy I was talking to agreed that ‘blogger’ is a perfectly valid choice of descriptor in this day and age!

Lucy At Home
Mummy Times Two

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Jo - Mother of TeenagersHelen McWilliamsMama Gracebecci - theunnaturalmotherMusings of a tired mummy...zzz... Recent comment authors

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Jo - Mother of Teenagers
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I doubt there is a single mum out there who has worked and stopped working who can’t identify with this. We should all be proud of being at home for our family and as you say there is a multitude of jobs to be done. I like you loved my career and despite some moments of doubt I am glad that I have been around for at least some of my teens years. With one about to head off this year to University – that time flies so make the most of it whilst you can. #PostsFromTheHeart

Helen McWilliams
Guest

#PostsFromTheHeart I completely agree with your feelings in this post – I am fortunate enough to have just started to mostly do what I love. It’s took time, lots and lots of patience (heaven know where I found that from!) and I still have to pinch myself. I wish you every success! x

Mama Grace
Guest

I’ve penned a poem about this, which I haven’t posted yet. I was told by a family member, ‘you’re a housewife now’, well I refuse to be labelled as one thing and I would hate for you to be labelled as a SAHM, blogger etc. You’re you and you have a list of talents, one being good with children, which will continue. I hope you are free to pick up or put down any hat you choose when you want too. #PostsFromTheHeart

becci - theunnaturalmother
Guest

I feel like i have more of an identity now i have quit my job. Depending what day it is depends on what my answer is to the question. Some days i am a older student as i am doing my Social Media Management Course , Some days I am a Blogger , some days i am a Freelance Writer, I also sell Body Shop Products to top up my earnings so some days i am a Body Shop Rep. Tomorrow i may saw i am the Queen of Sheba. I personally think you should say you are Wonder Women… Read more »

Musings of a tired mummy...zzz...
Guest

Blogger is always the last on my list when I describe what I ‘do’ but it should really be 2nd behind being a mum as it’s what I’m 2nd most proud of! #dreamteam

Rhyming with Wine
Guest

I can totally relate to this. I work two days a week and when I’m asked that question I always refer to my “employed” work rather than the blog when in truth I probably devote just as much time and effort to the latter. I always feel like I have to follow the term “blogger” up with an explanation? The truth is though it takes determination, commitment and blimmin hard work. We should say it proudly! Congratulations to you for building your own business and making it a success! Thanks for linking to #DreamTeam x

Lucy At Home
Guest

Oh I DREAD this question coming up (I’m a SAHM / blogger too). Whenever any asks me, I just stumble around trying to think of the right thing to say and then end up analysing my answer all the way home because I know I fluffed it up! Haha. I recently told someone recently that I’m a “semi-professional blogger” because, when I checked the definition of “semi-professional”, it said “receiving payment for an activity but not relying entirely on it for a living” and that seemed to fit the bill. But I am annoyed with myself that I find more… Read more »

rachel
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rachel

I think calling yourself a blogger as a job title is perfectly fine. I’ve fallen out of love with my ‘go to work’ job but i don’t know what else to do. I’ve been in the same job role for too many years to just walk into something different.
#postsfromtheheart

Kerry Fender
Guest

Yes, I think I’ll call myself a blogger from now on, too. It’s not exactly untrue, I do ‘do’ blogging (I just don’t earn a living from it)

Mummy2twindividuals
Guest

The ‘will it show on the list for my car insurance’ made me laugh. I didn’t like having to choose ‘home person’ it just seems a rediculous title. I feel like a blogger but haven’t started earning from it so know I wouldn’t be brave enough to say it. If people knew how much time and effort went it, maybe it’d be valued more #postsfromtheheart

Sadie | Be Your Own Example
Guest
Sadie | Be Your Own Example

I always think it’s a little sad that we’re defined by our jobs – they suck away enough of our life as it is, to tack our identity to them too seems a bit like twisting the knife! I’m always envious of people who are doing something that they love, so good for you for taking that leap!
#postsfromtheheart