Identity crisis: It’s back to (before) Square One, but it’s a full-time gig

“You are not your job.th “I’ve been telling you that for two years.”
My wife and I were surfing the wake of yet another oh-so-close interview that failed to land the job.
In the two years since I was drummed out of the ranks of fully employed editors/writers, there have been many highs and lows. I’ve learned, even after believing I aced an interview and struck a personal note with the potential employer, that I can’t afford to take failure personally.
But I am still having trouble accepting the separation of job and identity. Failure was not an option..
For most of my life, my job has been an essential part in the core of my identity.
It began when I was pre-teen and set up Odd Job Services — cutting grass, babysitting and other domestic chores. When I was 18 and started writing obits for the state’s largest newspaper — the same week I started my freshman year in college. Had my first byline a month later. At 19, I was hired full-time and promoted to a position that college grads coveted and rarely landed. I was an overachiever and proud of it.
The job had plenty of perks and privileges, from backstage concert passes to a decent wage that paid my way through college.
When I went back to school under a fellowship that paid my way to become an elementary school teacher (check that off the bucket list), my job changed, but not my passion for writing and editing. Again, I identified myself — defined myself — by my profession.
When I bounced back into writing and editing (after bouncing myself out of teaching), it was more than job.
When something involves creative talent and a healthy dose of ego to succeed, it’s impossible to wean your identity from your profession.
I was my job.
So now I’m working two jobs, and trying to survive a brutal schedule. I am not my job, but my jobs owns me.
At least two or three days/nights of the week, I pull an overnight shift, followed by a day shift, then another overnight shift. Hopefully there’s no day shift scheduled for the next day.
I don’t think anyone ever gets used to working third shift. I consume caffeine and sugar snacks. Great for my waistline and my dwindling number of teeth.
A few months ago, one of the paper-delivery people summed up the sleep situation nicely: “You don’t sleep. You just take naps.”
It’s taken a crushing toll on my home life.
One night last week, my daughter met me in the upstairs hallway.
“Daddy, since you work two jobs and have to sleep, I never get to see you anymore.”
I didn’t to cry in front of her.
I hugged her tightly and wiped my eyes.
Fast forward
Since I began this post, then let it go fallow, there’s been a change.
Home Depot has offered my full-time employment.
I start in a week. But it’s in another department.
Working in Lawn & Garden has always been enjoyable for me. My new job? I’m starting from Square One, in every way.
This doesn’t mean the end of Wawa. I wanted to get at least one shift a week there (overnight, of course). I’m trying to set it up so the shifts come before my days off at Home Depot.
The new job is opportunity to learn new skills — marketable skills. It’s an overwhelming challenge, to say the least.
No matter what, no matter how much I immerse myself in my new assignment, I still won’t be my job.
But I’ll have a job.

5 responses to “Identity crisis: It’s back to (before) Square One, but it’s a full-time gig

  1. Hi Charlie………..

    That’s good news about Home Depot for sure but I don’t want to see you run yourself into the ground!

    Let me know your schedule so we can chat, please.

    Love, Dad

    • So sweet. Checking on your “boy” via the blog. I can see where he gets the good-dad streak from.

  2. So I’m curious, why do you want to stay at Wawa, even though you know you need a better sleep schedule? Do I understand correctly that you had two part-time jobs, one at Home Depot and one at Wawa and now Home Depot has offered you something full-time but it’s a different dept than you were in? You were in Lawn & Garden and the new dept is…… ??? you didn’t say, did you?

    You do write well, even sleep deprived. I am glad you decided to blog about your unemployment. I’m going to be quoting you over at Unemploymentville.com shortly (you said I could quote you). I hope you will continue your writing, that your unplanned job detour allows that. As a 50-something whose children are grown, I am also insanely jealous of you having a child at home. Continue to hug her. Get some sleep and see more of her.

    Peace.

    Anne

  3. So why are you going to continue to work at Wawa, if you know you need a more regular sleep schedule? Is it just the money? Or is there a bit of extra security in having TWO jobs?

    Also, just checking that I’m understanding. You were working part-time at Wawa and part-time at Home Depot in the Lawn and Garden dept and now you have been offered something full-time in Home Depot, but it’s in another dept. Is that right? And you are kind of freaked about the new dept??

    You do write well, even in your current sleep deprived state. I’m glad you are blogging about your experiences. I will be quoting you soon over at Unemploymentville.com (you said ok in email before).

    But while you landed this job for Home Depot, you had another very close-to-getting-the-job-but-didn’t interview that was closer to your writing/editor background?? am I understanding correctly? I’m glad you are continuing to pursue those options. I know that is difficult when you are working a lot and have family responsibilities.

    Congrats at being fully employed again and kudos to continuing to fight the good fight and look for a position that will allow you to shine brightly! And a giant thank you for sharing your experiences. Putting yourself “out there”.

  4. You have always been more than your job to many people. Those of us lucky enough to know you and all of your assets including, humor, love of music and love for others, celebrate your achievements as a stellar human being. The world needs more Charlie Walkers!
    Smiles, M

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