I grew up in Long Island, New York close to the New York City metro area. I was raised to believe in making something of myself professionally. My father always wanted me to be able to support myself and not rely on anyone else.
Fast-forward to the second decade of this millennium and I am wholly reliant upon my husband to provide for me and my son. I am deathly afraid that if something were to happen to him that I would not be able to support myself. This makes me feel inadequate and incompetent. This makes me feel like a failure.
I’m kind of like a guy—I derive a sense of self-esteem and self-worth from working. Not having a full-time job kills me because I feel financially and emotionally deficient.
I wish I could say I grew up putting family first but I didn’t. I didn’t have a brother or sister to turn to and my parents buster their butts working to provide a decent life for me. My mother missed out on a lot of my school events and she had no idea that I was bullied in school. She also didn’t understand the depression I dealt with.
Family never came first. That’s the model that was set for me. In practicality, work came first. I was a latchkey kid for most of my childhood. I missed out on after-school activities, Girl Scouts, and other programs that other kids were able to take advantage of.
Academics were always important. My father felt as though the better I did in school, the more successful I’d be in life.
I hate to think it hasn’t translated that way but it hasn’t. I’m not as successful professionally as I’d like to be. I wish I could earn enough to help support my family—to afford a second car and help pay a mortgage. Even contribute as a partner to the rent. But no, I am wholly deficient. It’s hard for a creative type like me with a limited set of skills to make a lot of money. I wish I could.
My son needs to be my priority; he’s 3 months old. My husband needs to be priority; he’s family and loves me. But I can’t shake the need—the feeling that I am a colossal failure if I don’t help my family financially. I can’t help but feel like a colossal failure if I’m not putting my time and energy into a profession that either provides for my family or makes a difference.
And right now, I am doing none of those things.
Topics running through my mind:
5. Job with contract company
7. Lack of consistency/discipline
8. My personality–always desiring to be someone I’m not
My mind is all over the place so let’s cover all of these topics–though not necessarily in the order listed and definitely not all in this post. I ended up handwriting this post first (over the course of 2 hours) which amounted to about 22 pages on 7″ x 10.5″ paper. So this will end up being a series posted during the next couple of days.
Desiring to be someone who I’m not.
So I follow all these pastors, read their works, and am a HUGE fan, ie, Driscoll, Piper, and Packer. And sometimes I find myself wishing I could be a pastor. But it’s not a dream I can entertain myself with since I’m a woman and believe the Bible says only men are called to be pastors. (Yes, I know female pastors exist but I don’t agree with them.)
I find myself thinking, “Lord, why didn’t you make me a guy?” But then I realize guys don’t have it easy. My husband has to answer to God for the spiritual direction of our family. No, thank you. It’s hard enough being responsible for myself!
I used to look at other women and wish I could be them–wish I could have their lives or attractive personalities. For example, my older cousin whom I love to pieces. I used to look up to her. In a lot of ways, I still do. She’s strong, she’s a leader, she’s independent, and she’s self-sufficient. But she’s not married and doesn’t have any good prospects in the wings (that I know of). Do I really want to trade my husband just so I can have all those awesome qualities I am so envious of?
Funny like one of my friends. I wish I was like that. I wish I was sweet and likable like my former co-worker. I wish I didn’t care what anyone thinks of me like my hairdresser. Who looks at me and gets envious? But I guess we can all find something to envy about each other, right?
I’m not incredibly materialistic but hoo boy am I definitely tied to the things of this world. Money–something I use, not necessarily for material possessions (although my current obsession is IKEA), but to make myself feel worth something.
Yes, I tie my worth to whether I make money. Problem is, I don’t know how to “untie” it.
When a month or two go by and I haven’t heard from the company I contract for regularly, I self-deprecate and get negative:
“What if they never call me again?”
“What if my work from last time was sloppy and they just don’t want me back?”
“I’m not earning any money so I’m worthless and useless and my life and existence is pointless.”
But when I work, I suddenly have worth again. I feel I can legitimately complain about how the government uses taxpayer money because 30 percent of what I make goes to state and federal taxes each quarter. (That’s what happens when you’re self-employed in the U.S.!)
But what will happen when my full-time job becomes mother? How will I assess my worth then? Will I be worthless as a citizen of the U.S. with a purposeful existence as a mother? Will I be more useful than I’ve ever been?
My husband argues that his money is my money. I don’t see it that way. I have access to his earnings and he can have access to mine (I make significantly less than he does so he rarely has any need to) but I treat our earnings separately. I tithe off of whatever I make and don’t ever touch his. I don’t feel right taking his money–that he worked 40+ hours during the week to earn–and acting like it’s mine. I didn’t earn it. I never showed up to code a software program; he did. It’s not mine. And buying a gift with his money just seems so lame; I’d rather buy nothing at all. I can inherit it if he dies–just like I inherit my mother’s house–but it’s not mine until then. I’ll use it with his permission but I’ll always feel indebted to him. (Out-of-context verse time!) The borrower is slave to the lender.
I don’t like to publicly discuss this in detail since I never wanted kids before last year and still really wrestle with the prospect of being a responsible, mature mom. As a result, I’ll be brief: I’m impatient, I’m disappointed every time I find out I’m not expecting, and I wonder if motherhood is what God has for me.
I always tied my identity to what I did for a living. Americans are notorious for doing this.
Stranger: So tell me a little bit about yourself.
Me: Well, I’m a freelancer. I edit, proofread, and write articles.
I need to break the notion that I am my job. Kass does not equal writer.
I have this bad tendency to equate my self-worth to my accomplishments and achievements. The ironic thing is that my worth does not come from what I’ve accomplished or achieved but what Christ has already accomplished and achieved for all of mankind (including me!).
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.” — I Corinthians 6:19-20