Interesting reaction to something today - someone asked me about my archaeological work, and I found myself feeling really resentful about having to answer her question. That made me pause and go "Hmmmm...."
There are a lot of emotions for me that are tied to my career - or past career, depending on how you look at it. I no longer consider myself an archaeologist. Sure, I have the Master's Degree on my wall, and I do work for another archaeologist - but it's graphic design, editing and formatting - not actually archaeology. I do related work. I've been working for Donald Luxton and Associates doing heritage consulting (public relations and research, mostly), and I was involved in some Traditional Knowledge work a few years ago. Plus, I do my own research and writing. But I don't consider myself an archaeologist any more.
And why does it matter? Well, really, it doesn't. But somewhere deep inside I feel like I didn't follow the career path I should have. And that's bullshit (if you'll pardon my language). I'm happier now than I EVER was doing archaeology. I get to work on projects that excite me and I get to do really fun stuff. I love research more than anything. And graphics. But there is a little part of me that misses being able to say with clarity "I'm an archaeologist".
It took a long time for me to come to grips with "giving up" my career - and it was done slowly over many years. A lot of long thought went into it. And along the way I did feel like I was taking the easy route by not being an archaeologist anymore. But my life is so much better now. I get to be at home, do work I enjoy (including housework) on my own schedule. Read the books I want to read and watch the T.V. I like. As I've mentioned before and will continue to harp on, I am lucky because my husband "brings home the bacon" and lets me do this. We live with one car and a small-ish house and we live within our means - which is not necessarily the way he would prefer to live, all things being equal. But he lets me live my life this way because I feel better doing this and am a happier person because of it.
I'm blessed. And so, so lucky. But I guess somewhere deep down inside, there's still a part of me that feels like I failed. I guess I should just get over it. I have a kick-ass life and I love it.