When I graduated from nursing school, I made a conscious decision whenever asked the favored party question, “What do you do for a living?” to never answer, “I’m a nurse.” But instead, “I work as a nurse.”
The difference between the two sentences is subtle, but ultimately I wanted to acknowledge that who I am and what I do for a living, are different.
I lived in various different places where “what you do” is all that matters. Isn’t that unbelievably confining?! So what does that say if you hate what you do? If you hate what you do, and yet your job is your identity…uh-oh.
There is so much freedom in not having your entire identity attached to your career. It can allow you room for exploring other things that you love to do. It also helps you process a bad day more easily, as it’s a mere blip in the spectrum of all that is important to you.
But what happens if you have a bad work day/week/year where your identity is soley attached to your career? Existential crisis? Maybe. Depression? Sure. Helplessness? Most likely. Feelings of inadequacy? Ouch, you betcha.
If not attaching your identity to your career is a new idea for you, don’t sweat it. A lot of our careers in the caregiver field, program us to think this way. They want us “all in.” Just don’t drink the Kool-Aid, this isn’t all that you are. You’ve got a ton of amazing qualities that often times your career doesn’t have room for, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still cultivate them. In the words of Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.”
I can’t tell you how many creative people I know in the caregiving field. And while their creativity is sometimes utilized at their job, perhaps not as much as they’d like. If you can relate to this, and your instinct is to say “Oh well, you can’t have it all,” let’s try a new approach.
Instead, how can you make use of these gifts on your off time. Here’s a sampling of activities that friends of my mine, particularly in the caregiving field embrace when not at their job. They act, DJ, paint, play and write music, write for themselves, write for others, take dance classes, take improv classes, love being a mother, shoot for being the favorite auntie, climb at rock gyms, go on hikes, have catering businesses, train for half marathons, take road trips, make community, travel….
What gifts or natural abilities do you have, that your career doesn’t have room for? Dare to allow yourself to think outside that box, and explore this other side of yourself. Chances are, it might even make you a better caregiver!
Take care of YOU.