Yes, I Am Defined By My Job

By day, I’m a laser-focused copy editor. By night, I’m a writer who spends her free time interviewing local advertisers or punching up dull website copy.

Blogging has also become a “job,” in that I spend some of my free waking moments thinking of new topics to write about and preparing posts for publication.

When I go to sleep, I dream of deadlines — of missing deadlines, putting commas in the wrong place, misidentifying people in photo captions. Not a week goes by where I don’t wake up in a cold sweat, thinking my nightmare of a misplaced modifier had come true.

My friends and family come to me when they need a resume proofread, a paper edited or a question about the English language answered. It’s who I am — the go-to grammar guru.

I am defined by my job. But then again, my interests and aptitude made me a perfect match for my job. I chose my work — it didn’t choose me.

Editing and writing were ingrained in my persona from an early age. In high school, I used to mentally copy-edit the town newspaper (where I would later work as a reporter and editor), and I had visions of mailing the news office the latest week’s copy — marked up with red pen. Yes, that’s a true peek into my adolescent brain. While most other teenagers were experimenting with drugs and alcohol, I wanted to “fix” the town newspaper. My gosh, doesn’t that explain a lot!

Keeping Things at an Even Keel

So while I believe I am defined by my job, that’s not to say I don’t have a life outside of work. I have plenty of friends that I love to hang out with and family that I see all of the time. I’m not forced to work 24/7. I don’t have a BlackBerry or an iPhone, and it’s liberating. There is such a thing as being too connected, too involved in your job. I can see how some folks, such as business owners, have to be “dialed in” all of the time, but that’s not for me right now. I’ll check my work e-mail over the weekend to make sure there aren’t any emergencies, but that’s the extent of my involvement on Saturdays and Sundays.

I don’t consider myself a slave to the rat race, as The Financial Blogger* (sorry, mixed you up with Free From Broke!) puts it, but I know my and Mr. Saver’s survival depends on both of us having an income coming in. Well, once we bought our home, it became absolutely necessary to have both incomes, but that was a choice we knowingly made. I willingly work freelance gigs to bring in extra money to help grow our savings accounts in the hopes that one day I will be able to stay home with children and/or begin a full-time freelance career.

But for now, I am happy to be defined by my job. Going to work and getting a steady paycheck gives me purpose. Working my side gigs allows me to replace my editor’s hat with a writer’s quill. It all works out in the end.

21 comments to Yes, I Am Defined By My Job

  • Love this post! During the day I’m proofreading, subbing, editing. In my spare time I write freelance and blog. It’s a good balance.

  • I am partly defined by my interests — and where those interests align with my job, I’m ok with being defined that way. But I don’t want to be defined by any one thing. Additionally, if you are defined only by your job, what happens when you lose your job? There must be other external definitions of who you are if you plan to emotionally survive a job loss.

    • Nicole

      Valid point — I think everyone, after a job loss, has to redefine themselves. I do have other ways of “defining” myself, so it’s not one-sided.

  • I have to think of it as a way to pay my bills and dig us out of debt. I would love to have a job that I defined myself by! 🙂

  • I think the ideal job is one where your passions/interests meet something productive and (hopefully) lucrative. I want to be a librarian and I see all the website work I’ve done as an extension of that since it’s essentially organizing information and making it available. Best case scenario you can be both sane and happily-identified with your job. 🙂

  • My coworker just left early because her doctor put her on minimal work orders for a while. She doesn’t want to leave, not because she enjoys her job, but because she is bored… not knowing what to do with her self during free individual time alone. *sigh* How I envy her individual temporary freedom. And this example, I believe is the wrong way to let one’s job define you.

    BTW Evan, I know plenty of attorneys that surf! 🙂

  • I always knew I wanted to be an Attorney, but didn’t know in what capacity. While I am extremely happy, I hate how people put me in a box.

    I once went surfing (just once, because I am way too out of shape to swim out to grab a wave…it was sad) and my father literally said to me, “Attorneys don’t surf” – What the hell is that?!

  • kt

    @Nicole what about your health and sanity?? dont they count??

  • I enjoyed reading your post. I’m starting college & am still wondering what fits me. I think a stay at home mom would fit me best but can’t find a husband.

  • That’s cool that you fit your job so well.

    Since I left the rat race and went online I would prefer to say “I define my job”… Luckily for me it is this way most of the time.

    My copy writing skills are awful…. please don’t look at my blog with a critical eye 🙂

    • Nicole

      No worries – I’ve learned to let most of the typos I see go without getting out my pen!

  • Lately I’ve become a slave to the blogging. Ex. Keeping up with leaving comments for my fave bloggers and posting daily and now freelancing full-time is killing me. I’m gonna tell you a secret. My job does define me. I know this because when I’m paid to write, I’m on top of the world and feel awesome. When I’m paid to be an account coordinator or help with projects or do anything but, I fall into a deep depression.

    Thanks for listening to me 🙂

    • Nicole

      It IS hard to balance a full-time job and blogging (and freelancing), which is why my posting schedule is really just M-W-F with roundups most Saturdays. Sounds like you’re enjoying your new job.

  • I’m the opposite, I found a job that I’m great at but it doesn’t define me at all. I work for a company that doesn’t care about its employees at all in a cubicle for exactly 40 hours a week doing something that a trained monkey could do (well, a very smart monkey). My only saving grace is that I kick butt and enjoy the customer service part of my job.

    Then I go home and can be me…my husband, friends, and family definitely define me more than my job. I’m jealous you knew what you wanted since you were in high school. That is awesome.

    Other than blogging and socializing, I have no idea what I’d want to do every day…

    • Nicole

      Well, I wouldn’t say I knew what I wanted to do exactly. I knew what I LIKED to do in high school… it was an English teacher who recruited me for the Journalism class who really gave me that “push” I needed. Before that, I wanted to be a meteorologist or an architect!

  • kt

    there was a time when i was defined by my work and while i liked it at the time (you know being the guy that everyone came to when they has such and such a problem), i wouldn’t want it now. i love what i do everyday and while i spend a lot of ime doing it, it does not in any way affect my sleep or appetite(two very important things in this existence of mine). i think you should do something about those cold sweats because they may affect your health and cause you to burnout- and we dont want that do we??

    • Nicole

      I only have ‘work dreams’ after a deadline. And believe me, if it’s not work, I’d be worrying about something else!

  • Red

    Girl, I cannot relate. I am so jealous that you are able to disconnect from work as a copy editor/journalist. When I worked at a newspaper as a reporter/copy editor, I was constantly at the office or thinking about the office or having nightmares that I missed a county commission meeting. If I could do both – work that job and still maintain a life – I think I’d have it made. But I don’t know if it’s possible. I’m just a little too OCD. 🙂

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