Or, if I do what I claim I will do in this post, an undefining moment.
I’ve always been someone who said I did not want to be defined by my job. I’m a librarian and I enjoy being a librarian, but I don’t want my life to be defined by my libriarianness and/or my success in the field. Lately, however, I have started to worry too much about my success in the field. I’ve applied for many promotions, transfers, jobs in other library systems over the past few years and have heard nothing but a resounding no. I know that I am good at my job and that I would be good at these new jobs, but the constant rejection is getting me down. I think that I am not exactly letting my job define me as much as letting the people making these decisions define me. I’m letting myself be defined as someone who reached the peak of their professional life 20 years ago. There is nowhere to go from here. That wouldn’t be a problem if I had continued in my belief that I am not defined by my job. So, what changed?
It was easy when the kids were little. I was defined by my job as dad. I didn’t worry so much about job advancement because my job gave me the flexibility to be home most nights and every weekend with the kids. This was especially important because Dawn traveled a lot with her job. Once Bradley got older, I was defined some by my job as Coach Alan. I spent a lot of nights and weekends on the baseball field and the gym helping coach baseball and basketball. Jessica was also still young enough for me to be kept busy just being dad there as well. I was also defined by my job as Mr Alan, youth worker at the church. I started my work with the youth group right before Bradley was born and was there until right when he went to high school. I did youth camps in the summer, youth retreats in the winter, mid week Bible study, middle school Sunday school, and various other events. Again, my job allowed me the flexibility to do this, so I was happy.
Now, Bradley is away at college. Jessica is in high school. While dad is still needed, it is not the same as when they were little and needed me for everything. I haven’t been Coach Alan since the group I coached went to high school. Now they are all in college. The main group of kids I worked with at Severn Run are all married with kids these days. I leave work and realize I have no where to go and nothing really to do. I guess I decided to put all of that excess time and energy into advancing at work and now realize that is not likely to happen.
I guess maybe this is my midlife crisis. Who am I now that I’m not these people? I need to make sure I find how to define myself and not let others define me as a failure.