I’ve been without a job for about two months now, and the guy and I have been roaming about Thailand for that two months. Hopping trains, taking buses that feel like an Indiana Jones ride, getting open water scuba dive certified, hanging out on the beach, almost getting pooped on by a bat, etc. We have had down days where we take it easy, and days where we walk eleven miles and fall into bed at night. It has been really good for us in a lot ways, but it has also been challenging.
Let me explain. For so long I followed the standard narrative, and it became my normal. I woke up at the same time M-F and headed off to work for eight hours. On Saturday’s,I also woke up early and went to my second job, working as a therapist and trying to get my hours towards licensure. I was hustling, and I was also getting quite burnt out. I woke up each day and I knew where I was going, had a general idea of what I would be doing, and knew that by 5pm I would be headed home.
When I left work that last day in December, I left that all behind. I no longer have to get up at any particular time in the morning, unless I have a train or bus to catch. I usually don’t have a well-formed plan of what I’m going to be doing for the day- and at first that made me feel so free. It still does most days, but lately I’ve been working to redefine my worth. For so long it was tied up with my identity as a student, and then it turned into my identity as a working professional. I knew at the time that I wasn’t just my job, that there were other things that defined me. And yet here I am, jobless, wandering through Thailand and trying to figure out how I define my worth without a job.
I wanted this adventure for so long, and I still do- but I guess I hadn’t realized how much I had let what I do, define who I am. It has been interesting meeting people as we travel, because not once has anyone asked me what I do. Instead people want to know where I’m from, where I’ve been, and where I hope to go. That small thing has really stood out to me, because I feel like when meeting new people at home, one of the first questions people always ask is, “What do you do?” It has been rather refreshing not to have anyone ask that question. Right now, if I was answering the way that it’s meant, my answer would be, ” I don’t have a job.” And yet what I would really like to say is, ” You know, I travel around and I meet people, and I hear their stories, and I push myself to do things that seem scary, like scuba diving, and I’m working on figuring out what my worth is when no one is paying me to do a job. That’s what I do.”
So tell me, how do you remember you have worth outside of your work?