Monday, November 14, 2011

What To Do, and Who Will Pay Me to Do It

My bar application is due tomorrow and I'll let you in on a little secret: it is not going to get done.

Now this doesn't mean I won't turn in a bar application in time to take the Florida bar, but it does mean that I'll be turning it in late (I can actually turn it in any time before January 15). I had a minor breakdown today trying to figure out whether I could get it in on time and whether I wanted it to get in at all.

My apathy and general confusion about what to do with my law degree has been with me for quite some time, but it has always been easy to ignore. My last semester in law school, I focused on the wedding and graduation. Then the tornado hit and I focused on getting up in the morning. Life has moved at a fairly hectic pace and now that it has somewhat slowed down, I feel trapped in a post-law school haze: a no-man's land of failed expectations and fluctuating pressures. Here I am, married but not pregnant, with a law degree but no bar passage, and without any particular inclination towards any one type of job or even a job in any certain area.

This probably wouldn't distress me so much, except that asking me about my life plans is the only topic acquaintances can bring up these days.  Every day I get asked a number of questions: if I've found a job, if I am studying for the bar, what my plans are, am I pregnant, are we going to start a family. Questions that terrify and paralyze me, make me feel resentful and shameful all at once. The idea has begun to germinate in my brain that if I do not work and do not have children, if I am not producing something people can touch, that my life begins to confuse people. I admit, I resent having to justify my life on the basis of what I "do" - my occupation. I keep hearing that great line from the Judd and Maggie song, He's Not Out for Blood, saying that to have worth, "you don't need to prove/ you don't need control/ you don't need to win or to sell or to own." Work is a great good and healthy too, but it isn't the source of our worth, and I think that's the subtle pressure I am responding to when my rebellious side screams "Screw you guys, I'm going to do nothing forever!"

Taking the bar is a $4000 venture in Florida, no small chunk of change for us, and today I began to feel resentful that everyone assumed that was what I had to do - despite the fact that I have not identified a legal job that I want to even apply for, or even an area to work in. I'll admit it: I feel directionless. And it's a horrible feeling when you're married and have a husband with a very demanding job, such that you get sucked into the role of support personnel or political wife. I made the horrible mistake of talking to my mom today to hear her say "God gave you a brain and staying at home cleaning and taking care of your husband isn't what you're supposed to be doing with your life!" Ouch.

I do not do well with being yelled at when I am trying to figure things out. Tough love is great for me when there's something I need to do and I'm just being lazy, but using my husband's name like a slur is only going to make me discount everything you say for the foreseeable future. But there it is: do I, an educated woman, allow myself to "just" take care of my  husband? Do I satisfy myself with my home and my volunteering, my friends and philanthropy, or do I find a "real job"?

I am as puzzled as anyone else as to why God asked me to go to law school when I fell in love half way through with a man perfectly capable of supporting me. All I have ever wanted to be was a stay-at-home mom and yet here I am, facing the reality that my dream might be a little longer in coming than I anticipated. In retrospect, I feel that I made a lot of decisions in my life because I felt pressured to make them. It was drilled into me that as a woman with brains, I had a duty to use them - to get as much education as possible and get a really good job. Yet for all my supposed brains,  I'm remarkably unambitious in my professional life. I adore mindless clerical work (mostly because those jobs entail tasks with a definitive end that I can control), I enjoy being someone that assists others in their work - being the one that people depend upon to keep them organized, I like being a big fish in a little pond. I like being proficient at whatever is asked of me, and I think I can serve God in any job from retail to legal work.

I know that I don't want to take a job just to prove to others that I can, and I want to stop having my next steps be dictated by others' expectations. I do want to live productively and truly, but what I want more than anything is to God's will. If only I knew what that was, or if anyone knew what it was and could tell me - anybody out there have any ideas? Somebody...anybody??


  1. As you can tell, I got completely sucked into your blog. And I mean that in a good way!

    I feel as if we are kindred spirits... your entry about getting better at marriage because you expect your husband to believe what you say because you are thinking it, etc.? That is me to a T. I struggle with it all the time. That entry was inspiration for me to continue working on it and not backslide into what feels 'normal' (but at the same time, doesn't feel good at all).

    This entry feels very familiar, too. I have an MSW and $63k worth of student loan debt. And now I have it in my heart, more than ever, to be a stay at home mom whenever we do have children. I loved the experience in grad school so much, and I changed as a person due to it, but I wonder all the time- if God wanted me to be a stay at home mom, why did he lead me to grad school? I don't mind "wasting" the degree, because I don't view it that way... but I struggle because I don't know how we'll pay the loan debt if I don't work. I can have loan forgiveness after 10 years of working full time... which means 1-2 children will be raised in daycare. Or I can give that up and have life be a constant struggle to make ends meet. So frustrating! It's frustrating to question and have others question our vocation. All I can suggest, because this is where I'm at too, is to pray fervently. I think it's the only way we'll get our answers about where we are called to be, what we are called to do.

  2. Hi Stacy! Thanks for reading so much - I'm glad to know that somebody else identifies with my very human experiences!

    I think our shared problem is a very common problem today: women are encouraged to pursue higher degrees regardless of the cost, and then realize only later that what they want to do is stay home with their children. I suspect it's partially because of the devaluation of motherhood as worthy work, and the myth that everyone needs a college degree from a stellar 4-year college to have a good job that provides.

    You're right though - the only solution is to pray, and trust God. Debt or no debt, he will guide us to the path that will give us the greatest holiness and joy!

  3. Boy do we sound alike. I'm married with no kids, a masters in speech pathology but no full license or C's. I was such a go getter before getting married and then Poof. It all went away. I broke my foot and discovered that I didn't have to be productive to be worthy of love and all my motivation left. I got a job and stayed there for a month but being yelled at every day for every thing I did or didn't do really didn't work for me. So now I sit at home in this Now What? The more I think about it the more I want to remain as a stay at home wife. Eventually I'm sure kids will arrive but part of me fears that also. Who knows. Maybe God has other plans for me. Maybe one of my volunteering jobs will open up new avenue. Right now I have a husband who is willing to support his over qualified house wife with or without kids. I stay at home cooking and cleaning and somedays doing absolutely nothing but watching netflix and heating up left overs. Sometimes I go window shopping or go good willing. Everyone keeps asking me "So when are you going to get a Job." , "So are you guys ever going to have kids?" I keep hearing in those questions. "When are you going to do something with your life again?" And just like you said I want to scream NEVER! I'm going to stay right here and enjoy it. To be honest I love my life the way it is. It's only when others put pressure on me that I second guess my life. Why is it that others feel the need to make you miserable? I don't know but I'm kind of getting tired of it. I thought I was the only one who felt that way about where I am in life. All of my new friends have kids and are working. I'm the only stay at home wife I know. Maybe if I hadn't gotten an education or maybe if my education hasn't been so important to me they wouldn't be so obsessed with me "doing" something. I personally thing it's absolutely fine to live the way the both of us are living. We none working wives need to stick together.


Comments make me feel like I'm not just talking to myself or the government (because I know the government secretly reads my blog). Help me feel less crazy - comment away!