real life

'I am looking for a new job for the first time in 11 years and I’m petrified.'

I’m approaching 40 and have no idea who I am… it cuts deep.

Let me be clear, I don't have amnesia. I know the boxes I tick in society (identifying as a straight female, mum of two kids, wife of one husband and I will turn 39 this year) but I don’t know who I am. I have no idea what the hell I’m supposed to do when I grow up. 

My teenage self would be sad and ashamed if she had a glimpse at this future. I was never a straight-A student, but I was always curious, smart and ‘full of potential’.

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I finished high school, travelled alone, worked overseas, and went to uni. I also got married, had kids, worked part-time and full-time, then — in an effort to create a more balanced and flexible family — I resigned from my job to ‘help’ in my husband’s business.

It is not lost on me how very fortunate I was to have had those opportunities and options. I was able to voluntarily resign from my paid employment to work part-time in my husband’s tradie business. Not many people have the luxury of doing that, and I am genuinely grateful for that. 


Before you get too judgy-judgy, by no means was it a financially easy or carefree road. Our experience was messy and varied — truth be told — I never liked working in my husband’s business and I was never any good at it. However, it did afford me many priceless opportunities, like attending school Easter hat parades and other middle-of-the-working day school events.

It also contributed to a serious strain in my marriage, some regrettable parenting choices and how I connected with my kids. Most frighteningly, it absolutely changed my relationship with myself. Over time, my own sense of self and who I am has faded. 

As the economy has it, we can no longer afford to live on the one income stream. For the first time in nearly 11 years, I am looking for a new job and I’m petrified. 

Since my last stint in the workforce, my world feels so small — I don’t go on social media because I’m not ‘doing anything’ with my life that’s worth posting. My skills need updating, and as for my strengths and weaknesses or what I like, or my hobbies, or interests, I really don’t know anymore.

I can’t think of an answer without long pauses and questioning anything that comes to mind. I can’t remember who I am, I hesitate and shrink when I look at myself. It makes me sad to think of myself like this. I get lost in my thoughts and wonder if other women feel the same as me. Or if I am just the most insufferable human ever?! 


This morning, I took a strong hard look at my reality versus my thoughts. Somewhere along the way, I became comfortable in my existence. But I don’t want to just ‘exist’ anymore. For the first time in a long time I feel like it’s enough and I want to step out of the role I’ve been hiding behind, and step into well, me. Just me. 

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So, I’ve made the choice to lean into this experience — hurt, shame, ownership, and all. I probably could just bypass all that and get a job at Woolies tomorrow. But, I know that sweeping these feelings under the rug will only give me sleepless nights and acne breakouts. 

I am using the discomfort to reinvigorate myself and challenge myself. Somewhere inside (buried under the negative self-talk and bad habits) I know there is a strong woman who can forge ahead and create a new chapter regardless of her backstory. And right there alongside her, there’s that energetic and curious teenage girl, and she’s looking pretty optimistic. 

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