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Dear Thursday: What Do You Do?

So, I’ve been conflicted lately. Due to the nature of always finding new “old friends” on Facebook, I’ve been asked the same question quite a bit: “What do you do?”

selfworthLess than a year ago, I used to say rather proudly that I wrote the #1 countdown show worldwide, American Top 40 with Ryan Seacrest. Then I had a nice little spiel about what a fun job it was, how it made perfect use of my unusual skill set, which included a love of writing and the ability to commit every bit of useless pop culture trivia to forever memory. And so on and so on. I had lived through a string of office day jobs before that, and I loved being able to finally say at parties that I was paid to write for a living.

Now it’s a lot more complicated.

Stranger or Old Friend: So what do you do?

Me: Well, I used to write for American Top 40, but then I got pregnant, and transitioned into part-time. So now I edit the show.

S/OF: So you put together the show for radio?

Me: No, I’m not an editor-editor. I read over the new writer’s drafts, then I listen to the show after it’s been put together by the editor-editor and ask for changes as necessary.

S/OF (sounding confused): Oh, I see. So you just had a child.

Me: No, I’m just transitioning now.

I don’t want to go into the complicated history of how I actually quit before I got pregnant and right before I learned we’d have to go with IVF in order to get pregnant in the first place. That conversation is a little too deep for a party/Facebook. But I do realize that I probably need to simplify my answer.

Now that I’ve not been the AT40 writer since September 2008, I should probably just say I’m a part-time editor, and I run a blog called Fierce and Nerdy, and I’m working on my second novel — but I’m not a big fan of being the person with 3 jobs, especially since I’m really not established in 2 of them — it somehow makes it feel like I’m saying, “I have an inadequate part-time job, I fill about 3 hours of my day up with a blog site, and I spend the other hours on writing novels, which you’ve never heard of.”

After Betty comes, I realize that I can probably say that I’m a work-at-home mom without fear of follow-up questions. In fact now I could simply say that I’m transitioning into becoming a work-at-home mom.

But just like I don’t consider being CH’s wife my job, I don’t consider being a mom my job — though I do realize that I’m going to be putting in a ton of hours.

I’ve read that no one should define that self-worth by their career. But then I wonder where one should derive their self-worth. Though I’m ready to be a mom, it’s not something that I can base my self-worth in. I mean there are so many moms around the world — it seems silly to think of it as an accomplishment as opposed to say “an affliction of biological imperative.” Same goes for being a good person. I think that there are more good people than bad in this world, and that at the end of the day, congratulating yourself for being a good person is basically congratulating yourself for being human.

I guess I’m in the midst of some kind of existential crisis. At the end of my life, I can see myself looking back and asking, “What did I do?” And what will I answer.

On the other hand, I know this is just the “being in flux” talking. Change is hard and the hardest part of it might be feeling untethered from standard life definitions and roles.

I think the next time someone asks me what I do, I’ll answer that I’m currently trying to figure that very question out and that I’ll get back to them.

So obviously my questions for you is what do you do and how do you define your self worth?

. photo credit: Dead Air