Honestly this is one of those concepts I have a really hard time wrapping my head around.
As a woman, when asked how I would identify myself, the first thing that pops into my head is ” mom, wife, sister… and then writer.” With my husband and so many other men I know, when questioned about what they do, and who they are, their immediate response would be, “professional career, then father, husband, brother…”
Of course, the fact that my husband feels so utterly defined by his professional status label is a point of major contention and distress for him, as he’s currently not practicing said profession. The profession he spent over 11 years studying and working towards. And so, not having this label to hang onto- this identity to present to the world, well it’s soul crushing for him.. and I honestly don’t know how to help him reinvent his identity and his sense of self.
I know my husband is not alone in his feelings. Whenever we are out at any kind of function, or meeting new people, almost reflexively, when we are introduced people immediately shake his hand and say, “So what do you do?”. And then there’s that uncomfortable, awkward silence where he feels the needs to explain- or just plain-ignore the question… so we haven’t been “socializing” all that much.
Of course I understand his feelings of inadequacy, as men in our society are unfortunately so utterly defined by what they do in their professional careers and not by who they are, what they stand for, who they love and what they contribute …and well it just stinks.
Would love to hear your thoughts- especially if you’re with a guy who is also in a transitional period in his professional life– how are you dealing?