What defines you?

Happy Saturday! Here in the Northeast it was a gorgeous day. I didn’t sleep much at all last night, waking up and panicking about things I didn’t get done at work this week and worrying about my husband’s unemployed status. This meant that I got a nice early start and was on the road to NJ by around 7:15. A sleepless night and a five hour drive alone gave me lots of time to think, and while I still feel panicky about work, I think I know a bit more about myself.

I am the type of person who wants to be the hardest working person in the office. I have spent many a night up until 11 or later working on projects. I check my work email when I wake up in the middle of the night. I pride myself on working hard and usually meeting impossible deadlines. But today I realized that since college I have not had more than 2 weeks off from working, and all during this time, I have defined myself by how I make a paycheck. My biggest fear in losing a job is not financial but rather what people will think of me, and even worse, what I would think of myself. The more I look at these thoughts, the more they seem a bit warped to me. In the scheme of my entire life, is work really what I want to define me? And if I decided to or was forced to not work for a couple of months, would that mean that there is nothing to me? Maybe its the European vs American difference between me and my husband that gives him such a laid back view toward this. He is the hardest working person I know, but his work is so far from who he is, its crazy. He is an engineer, interacting with machines and code all day, where he is actually warm and social and supportive and hilarious. His day to day is boring, technical, clinical. He is none of those things. I spent a lot of today thinking about what I WANT to define me. I am a good wife, friend, sister, and daughter. I want to be defined by the things I love, food, wine, volunteering and social service, running, adventure, love not by what my business card says or how my work day goes.

I think over the next week or so there is going to be a lot of thinking and talking going on in our household on what the future holds. Things happen for a reason, and a lot has happened lately.

As for today, I am just Auntie Mangen (from a 2 year old who can’t say Meghan), and I am defined by how many times I can go down a slide and how silly I can dance in the backyard. And that is good enough for me :)

What do you think defines you? Do you get caught up in parts of  life that aren’t really “you”?

  1. The Actors Diet’s avatar

    i try to define myself but who i am, not what i do. it is amazing whenever i think about how much i love my friends just b/c of who they are, not b/c of what they do for a living or how much stuff they have. i try to view myself the same way.


  2. Allie (Live Laugh Eat)’s avatar

    I used to be so sure of what defined me and now I’m not so sure. I need some quality reflection time! Right now I am caught up in a VERY big [annoying, difficult, frustrating] part of my life that it not so charming right now. That’s the exam anxiety talking :)


  3. Gina’s avatar

    Thanks for being so honest. Where is your husband from? I think it’s pretty easy to get caught-up in that since work really does take up the majority of our time! However, I try and define myself by a combination of all the things I “do” or take part in. I am a social worker and am truly passionate about the work I’m doing so I love that it has become part of my identity – however, like you mentioned, all those other roles are even more important and can be harder to remember since they’re not facing us with deadlines everyday. Thanks for the thoughts!


  4. Alison’s avatar

    Very thoughtful post. I think I’m more defined by being a family member and friend although I enjoy being an attorney as well.


  5. talesfromtwocities’s avatar

    Love this post – having similar work thoughts now myself, it’s a lot to work out! Enjoy the beautiful sunny day.


  6. Andrea@WellnessNotes’s avatar

    I let work define who I was for the longest time. It consumed me. And I didn’t even love what I was doing. I didn’t think I made a real impact… Today, I truly love what I’m doing and it takes up a big part of who I am. But I don’t let work consume me anymore. It’s just not healthy… Good luck! Sounds like exciting times are ahead of you! :)


  7. Vanilla and Thyme’s avatar

    Dear “Auntie Mangen”, we’ve all, at one time or another, been in your shoes. I used to work for an engineering firm in HR; long hours, short fuses, working hard to put $$$$ into the pockets of the richest of the firm. Then I had a cancer diagnosis, and unfortunately, it took that to put life into perspective for me. I now teach literacy to grades K-5, work for less than half of what I made before, and have never felt more fulfilled, happy or “settled”. I wish I had changed my direction years ago. You can always find ways to rearrange your life financially, and never live for what others think; it’s your life to live! Best of luck to you, listen to your heart, and you’ll find your way. :)


  8. TheHealthyApron’s avatar

    I definitely think that it’s easy to get caught up in things that should NOT define you. Personally, I started my blog to provide something positive in my life dealing with nutrition, other than my “job.” Health definitely defines me…used to be in a “bad” way because I became compulsive about it. But today, I can honestly say that it’s such a passion of mine, I am proud it defines me!


  9. traveleatlove’s avatar

    Thank you thank you thank you for this comment!


  10. traveleatlove’s avatar

    I’m glad I’m not alone! I am also glad you found what you love to do :)


  11. traveleatlove’s avatar

    Good luck working it out! I hope you enjoyed the gorgeous weekend we had :)


  12. traveleatlove’s avatar

    My husband is from Ireland. His laid-backness has rubbed off on me a bit, and my punctuality has rubbed off on him, thank goodness! ;) Social workers amaze me, I would love to do that type of work, but I wonder if I would cry all the time!


  13. traveleatlove’s avatar

    You should give yourself a lot of credit for reflecting on this at your age! It takes a lot of people decades to get to that point.


  14. traveleatlove’s avatar

    That is a great philosophy. Sometimes it is sad how much harder on myself than I am on everyone else!


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