I have a job, but I am not my job

Amy with her class in New Zealand in 2012.

Amy with her class in New Zealand in 2012.

Story by Amy Gartenberg

The other night I was whining to my friend in a dive bar. It had been a long week and I was in a funk. I had told her that even though I taught, I didn’t feel like a “teacher.”

“Every time I say I’m a teacher, I feel like I’m lying.” I explained to her. She considered this, each of us taking a sip or our beers.

“Maybe you and I are never going to be ‘one thing’ type people.” She said. “Maybe that’s why you feel like you’re lying, because you do so much more than teach. Every time you say you’re a teacher, you exclude all the other stuff you do.”

Bam. That made sense to me. That I got.

When you graduate from college, everyone wants to know where you are living, what you’re doing. “Do you like it?” they ask. “Are you happy?”

This is enough to turn all of our twenty-something hairs gray.

“Does this job define me?” we will think. “I am supposed to love it? AM I happy?”

Whoa, whoa, slow down there sister.

What I’m learning, slowly but surely is that the job I have now doesn’t define me. And to be honest, I don’t think any job will ever define me. Do I love it? Sometimes. But sometimes I don’t. And that’s ok. Am I happy? When I’m not constantly questioning my career path, yes.  Of course there are days when I am not happy, but I’m learning to meet these days head on and not run away.

So when people ask me what I do, of course I feel like I’m lying when I say that I am a teacher. Yes, I am a teacher, but I am so much more. I am a writer, a runner, a sister, a girlfriend, a yogi, a learner, a tea drinker, a hiker, a swimmer, a traveler, a dancer, a laugher, a crier….

Amy with her dad and three  beatiful sisters

Amy with her dad and three beautiful sisters

Our stories are so much deeper than the label that accompanies our jobs.  Some days, being a teacher is what fills me up completely. I love when my kids laugh at a joke in the story we are reading or have an “ah-hah!” moment in math. Other days, teaching is hard for me, and it’s cooking dinner for my boyfriend that lights me up. Other days I need both of those things…and some yoga, and to pet a random dog on the street, and a glass of red wine. And you know what? That’s ok!

All of us are extraordinary. We are not one word careers.  We are a collection of beautiful gifts and immense light that we get to share with one another.

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3 responses to “I have a job, but I am not my job

  1. “All of us are extraordinary. We are not one word careers. We are a collection of beautiful gifts and immense light that we get to share with one another.” Boom! Well said. I love this perspective.

    Thank you so much!

    • Leanne, those words really hit home for me, too! I am so thankful that Amy shared her heart with us. She is an amazing young woman and her perspective provides me with wonderful opportunities for reflection.

  2. Wow, do I too relate to this as well. I am so many things (teacher like Amy writes here) and author and journalist and I have been/am many other things (adjunct professor, conference director)- this is such a great thought/reminder. I like this series dear Taylor!- Cornelia

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