Six Things I Learned About Myself When I Stopped Working
15 months ago I stopped working. After 4 years of going to college and working 2 jobs, 4 years of graduate school, 3 years of postdoctoral training, 6 years of working for a biotech company, 2 years as a scientist in someone else’s lab and 1.5 years of trying to run my own lab, we made our final move to Massachusetts and I couldn’t find a job that I wanted to do. So I stopped working outside of the home and became a SAHM.
BAM, just like that.
A lot of things changed and a lot of things didn’t and I learned some new things about myself:
I am not a domestic diva. When I was working full time outside of the home our house was often messy. Not downright dirty, but untidy. I always managed to cover the basics, but my house was seldom sparkly clean with everything in the right place. I always thought, if only I had more time at home, my house would look spectacular. Guess what? Nothing has really changed. My house is still messy because I really don’t enjoy cleaning all that much. I do what is necessary, but I would rather be working outside in the garden or taking Number 5 on an adventure. And now I also spend a considerable amount of time chasing goats that have devised a new way to escape their pen :/
I did not acquire a fathomless well of patience. Becoming a SAHM did not instantly grant me with more patience. A good fairy did not float down, tap me on the head with a magic wand and bestow infinite patience on me. My nerves are still frazzled after a day of repeating myself 10 times to be heard.
The dinner time crunch is still difficult. Even though I have been home all day, my kids are still cranky and needy when I am trying to make dinner.
There are still only 24 hours in the day. When I worked outside the home, I would daydream about all the time I would have if I didn’t have a job. I envisioned myself taking gardening classes, growing all of our food, running a small farm, maybe even taking up an instrument again. Ha ha. My days as a SAHM are just as full as when I worked an outside job.
I get lonely. It’s hard to move to a new place, meet new people and find friends. It is even harder when you are not leaving the house everyday to go out to a job. I really didn’t appreciate how much of my social life was wrapped up in my job. I guess I should have realized this, given my handicap as a scientist. But I didn’t. Starting this blog helped with that, but now I am afraid that I have become one of those people who only has a virtual life….
I can’t not work. I think the most important and surprising thing I learned about myself is that it is hard for me to define myself without another job. I obtain a lot of my self-worth from the work that I do outside of the home. I would love to be able to say that I am completely fulfilled raising my children and taking care of my home – but that just isn’t me. I found myself getting depressed, crabby and feeling useless. So, 7 months after I became a SAHM, I started doing freelance science writing and editing and became a part-time WAHM.
And it seems to be working for me.