but what do you do all day?

But what do you do all day?

Before I became a trailing spouse, I had a career. I worked hard in college and received a degree in political science and a minor in criminal justice. I interned with the Election Commission and a Member of Congress, and eventually moved to DC on my own. Then, at a young age, I was a permanent staff member in two different Members’ offices. I was pretty damn proud of myself and no one hassled me because I was independent. I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T, do you know what that means? (p.s. the only reason I know how to spell “independent” is because of that tacky song).

Going from working a lot in DC to not working at all in Scotland was a huge shock, and do you know what made it even worse? People asking me the same question every single week: “But what do you DO all day?” Bitch, I’m writing posts for my website! Obviously I didn’t respond with that because I’m somewhat shy when it comes to my blog, but this question was difficult to answer and made me feel bad about myself. I felt embarrassed.

There was no way I could have worked in the United Kingdom because I didn’t obtain a work visa since we were there short-term, but I still felt like I should have been doing bigger things with my life. Even though I spent my days writing, traveling, and learning about photography (oh, and cuddling Malcolm), I could tell that some people were still judging me because Brandon was bringing home the bacon and I wasn’t contributing. We both made the decision to pack up our lives in DC and move abroad because it was a once in a lifetime opportunity; therefore, I had to say goodbye to my job on the Hill. Wasn’t that enough? I sacrificed my career dreams to move to Aberdeen and travel the world with my husband.

It wasn’t enough because like I’ve said before, we’re judged by our careers. And that sort of sucks for people like me. Sometimes I feel invisible because I’m no longer independent and I rely on my spouse “too much”. Ho-kay. (You think I’m kidding but I’ve heard this statement before).

Since we’ve been moving every 6 months for B’s career, I still don’t have a job. I’d much rather write, volunteer, and take photographs than work a part-time job I despise, and my husband fully supports this decision. I’m still not contributing much monetarily, but that’s not the only thing that matters in life. I finally feel comfortable with myself. So to those people who judge me even though they have no clue what it’s like to pick up and move constantly? I say shut up. In the nicest way possible, of course.

Michelle from Mish Lovin' Life blog
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Filed Under: Expat, Lifestyle50 Comments
  • http://she-travels.net/ Chantal

    People who judge you like that obviously don’t have an idea what a work visa is etc. it’s also not like it is easy these days finding a job let alone for short periods of time. You and your husband agreed on this so what do other people care how or what you contribute monetarily. I wish sometimes people would look at themselves more rather than pointing fingers, but hey pointing a finger is easier to do.

  • http://therococoroamer.blogspot.com/ Brittany Ruth

    I feel ya girl. I’m a career woman too, but when my husband asked me to move to Germany and travel I was like, heck yes, I’ll sacrifice my career. Though I do work full-time here, just cause I’m bored, it’s definitely not in my career field or pay grade at all, but who wouldn’t want to travel and it’s great that your husband can support you. Travel while you’re young, you’ll have plenty of time to be chained to a full-time job and children later in life. :) I think it’s so cool that you make money off of blogging,but yes, people who don’t blog just don’t understand it. Some think it’s cool but others don’t get it. Do you!

  • http://www.sarainlepetitvillage.com/ Sara Louise

    Amen sister!
    Back in my Dublin days I worked 60 hours a week and people left me alone and as soon as I moved to France to be with my husband, that God awful question started. I don’t think they realize how insulting it is when it’s asked, but it is. Thanks for summing up exactly how I feel :)

  • http://hemborgwife.wordpress.com/ Bailie @ The Hemborg Wife

    Story of my current life! What makes me extra mad is that when we were living in California Fredrik could not work per visa issues and so my paycheck was what we lived on and now that I am not working it seems everyone magically forgot those two years…Ahhhhh
    This summer when we visited California when anyone asked I said “O you know just the normal stuff living my life like you do” which for the most part shut them up!

  • http://www.danielle-abroad.com/ Danielle E. Alvarez

    Gosh, people can be so dumb–not purposefully most of the time, but still. I’ve had discussions about what I do (grad school) be followed with, “oh, so you don’t work.” Clearly I share your lazy ambitions ;)

    Keep on doing your unconventional thing! You’re doing a damn good job with this blog and your photography.

  • http://www.bonnieroseblog.co.uk/ Bonnie Rose

    Right? So many spouses do that for so many reasons. In the military world it can be so challenging too because employers will not hire you if they know you are a military spouse because you will have to move. At least the people who matter, like husbands and wives know and care and those who do not get it can just move their thoughts a long.

  • Angelika DC

    I’m surprised in all these comments the age old term “jealousy” has not been brought up. Of course people will be jealous of the fact that you have this wonderful opportunity and it means your husband is making enough money to support you both. Haters will be haters. And you have managed to turn their negative remarks into a subject to blog about. Good for you!

  • http://lulug1975.blogspot.co.uk/ Louisa @ My Family & Abruzzo

    Why do other people get so bothered about it? It must be jealousy and/or lack of their own fulfilment. Ignore and rise above it.

  • http://lostintravelsblog.com/ Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

    i’d say something a whole lot more colorful than ‘shut up’ ; ) people ask us similar questions living abroad and not using our majors. my dad always gets asked ‘sooo what are they DOING?’ umm we’re living abroad, getting life experience, traveling and doing what we love. and the problem is?….i hate being defined by what our job is, what our major was, and everything in between. if you feel fulfilled with your life and do what you love and are passionate about, shouldn’t that be enough?

    • http://southernbelle23.blogspot.com Whitney @ EHFAR

      People used to judge me because I got my master’s degree and have no plans using it. About a year into school, it was pretty clear and known that I had no plans to use it. One person I know will ask me, what are you doing and where do you work? every couple of months. I know he may be doing it to be friendly, but it comes across to me as pretentious, since it is the same convo every time. Plus, I usually post where I’m working on facebook. It’s like if I’m not using my degree, I’m not doing anything ‘worthwhile’ at least in their eyes. Also, if I’m doing something ‘nontraditional,’ I can see them get quiet… almost like they are confused or don’t know what to say. I know they are secretly judging. However, if I have the opportunity to do something I love.. I’m going to do it. Why work a job that you hate and miserable at? Um.. no thanks!

  • http://www.creatricemondial.com/ Amy Lynne Hayes

    Oh that’s just ridiculous!! People need to pay more attention to the positives of what you DO contribute outside of money – a loving home, emotional support, being half of a partnership and together pursuing your dreams as a couple. But no, people like to focus on the money, and ignore what are arguably the more important things in life. Don’t for one minute listen – they don’t know your story or path.

  • Caitlin

    I hate how we are judged by our careers… I have had way too many people look at me and shake their head when I say that I am a teacher. They either think, “Poor (literally poor) her” or “Anyone can be a teacher. It’s the equivalent of working at McDonalds). However, truth is teaching is one of the hardest jobs a person can have – and we are paid shit – and we aren’t appreciated that way that we should be. We do the same thing a doctor does – we care for people and without us the world wouldn’t be able to run the way it does! ….. And that’s my rant for the day, haha. ANYWAYS – all those peeps who ask what you do – tell them you are AWESOME and to suck a big fat one.

    • http://www.sunshine2thesquareinch.blogspot.com/ Beka Johnson

      Teaching is a rock star hard job! I did it for one year abroad and EVERY day I felt like a big bus had ran over me! Don’t worry though – those kids will make it worth it and changing someone’s life is worth much more than what anyone says.

  • http://www.theveryhungrytraveller.com/ keely@theveryhungrytraveller

    Thank you for writing this! I’m between jobs so I get this too. I haven’t worked since I left my last job, but whenever it comes up in conversations it does make me feel uncomfortable. There’s much more to life than work and I try to tell myself our jobs aren’t what define us as people. I’m a much more relaxed and happy person since I left my stressful job – that’s a good thing at least!

  • http://tidethatleft.blogspot.co.uk/ Amy @ the tide that left

    This is definitely something I’ve been pondering (worrying about) since I decided to quit work and follow my husband to Tanzania. Apart from our time in Libya, I have always worked whilst we’ve lived abroad, but now I feel like I’m judging myself for not doing so. It’s crazy because this is the right decision for now. And as my Mum has always said to me, a financial contribution isn’t the only contribution you make to a marriage/partnership. You’ve probably learned so much, in terms of skills and about yourself/your marriage/your husband that I think this time, however long it lasts, will always be priceless.

  • http://www.chicadeedee.com/ Dannielle @ Chic-a-DeeDee

    I hate this too. I work from home, and earn a salary, but because I work from home people just assume I’m not doing anything. If anything, it’s worse, because you can always “just nip up to fix something quick” but because I don’t travel away to an office, I am judged. I don’t know when this whole you are what your job is mind set came in, but I don’t like it. A lot of people don’t even like their jobs and don’t want them to define them, so why should staying home define someone?

    • http://eatseedoblog.com Anna @ eatseedoblog

      Oh wow I so feel you on this. I have the same issue with working from home because though I’m working I feel like I should also be cleaning and cooking and making sure everything else is done and being social if other people are around. It can be so annoying having to justify yourself to people who say things like – oh I’d love to just stay in my PJs and work from bed all day and you just want to tell them that they have NO idea.

  • http://www.lattesandpawprints.com/ Stephanie

    I fully support your decision! It’s hard to work when you move a lot. Plus, if your husband is on your side, who cares what anyone else thinks? ;)

  • http://www.memyselfandatlanta.wordpress.com/ Rachel @ Me Myself and Atlanta

    You tell em girl! Since moving to the States I’ve been asked that same question so many times!! When we first arrived my visa didn’t allow me to work – I’m now looking for a job but realising that freelance work from home might be the way forward – people will still probably think I’m not working but I don’t care! There was no way I was saying no to the experience of a lifetime, even if that did mean jacking in my job and crossing the pond to stay at home!!

  • Katie @ A Beautiful Little Adv

    Thank you for writing this! I feel like it is so old fashioned for us to be judged by our careers – I tell myself that it stems from most people being unhappy in their careers or feeling stuck by their choice of career or job. Sounds like you are truly following your bliss, that’s all that life is really about. Ever since I quit my “career” job and work for a small company doing creative work, I’m SO much happier (not to mention HEALTHIER). Preach is sister and keep doing your thing!

    • http://southernbelle23.blogspot.com Whitney @ EHFAR

      I totally agree. I think it is super silly to be defined by our careers. I never let a job define me. It was just a job. Not my life or even a reflection of me. I knew I wouldn’t be there long or indefinitely. Even when I went to graduate school and graduated, people kept asking me “what are you going to do?” I sort of get snarky and/or give them a look. Just because someone goes to school doesn’t mean they have to follow that path. I knew about a year in that it wasn’t for me, but I finished it out. After I graduated, I quit my job in the field because I was miserable. I was on call 24/7, working 55 hours, being put down my management, etc. Long story. However, I’ve never been happier and my well-being is so much better. That’s been two years though. I’ve been trying on/off to start my own business and continue to work on my blog daily.

  • http://danceanthak.blogspot.com Erinn C. D.

    If I were only in place for 6 months at a time and financially could handle not having a job I wouldn’t either. 6 months is nothing! Volunteering is a much better use of skills and time for sure.

  • http://southernbelle23.blogspot.com/ Whitney

    I wrote something similar this, regarding people’s judgements. I mostly touched on people asking, What’s next? I had one person who would ask where I worked every couple of months. When it was nowhere, I could tell they were judging. When it was somewhere (not in the field of my master’s), they were judging.

    I HATE when people ask where do you work. I do UNDERSTAND that it is just a normal question that people ask to get to know you. So many people think that a “job” is clocking in 9-5 for 40 hours a week, but it isn’t.

    I’m the type of person who doesn’t let a job define my self-worth. It just isn’t important to me, in the aspect of making me who I am. I’m a creative type and one that cannot work for someone else. I just cannot do it. I’m making it a point to work for myself. I’m glad that my husband has supported it over the years.

    I think it is sad people judge people by their careers or automatically assume since it isn’t “traditional,” that it doesn’t mean anything. Plus, I think it is GREAT that you are going after what you want, instead of being unhappy and settling. I think the judgey people are jealous, because they are unable to do so!

    • http://www.sunshine2thesquareinch.blogspot.com/ Beka Johnson

      I hear ya! I just want to say that I think America is the ‘what do you do?’ society. That’s one of the first questions asked. I grew up in Brazil and went back for a visit in 2006 and you know what? Not ONE person asked me that. They asked me how I was. What I liked. Etc. Our culture needs some help.

  • http://weiderjl.blogspot.com/ Jenn

    Funny you are writing this today because we were discussing how people judge other people based on their success in their careers in my Criminology class. It’s such a huge problem in our country that we are judged on careers and stuff rather than hard work and character.

  • kayleigh maryon

    i love that you wrote this post today because this is how I am feeling lately. Although I do have a part time job right now, Jason make the big money in our relationship and soon I will be going to school so not making anything. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t do things or contribute to the relationship in other ways.

  • Madi

    People suck. I wish I could find a way to supplement my income to not have a traditional 8-5 job. I’m miserable at my job, and it’s not worth it. You would waste too much of your life being unhappy if you took a job just to have one.

  • http://shannonthemrs.blogspot.de/ Shannon

    UGH I get that question all the time! Why are people so rude?? Don’t they stop to think, huh this question is going to make me sound like a huge jerk? Apparently not. I’m in a similar position-we’re going to be moving 2-3 times in the next year so a job is most likely not in my future. I try not to let it get to me anymore. I’d rather be traveling with my husband than working a job to improve some rando’s opinion of me. End rant. ;)

  • http://www.theheadlessmannequin.blogspot.com/ TheHeadlessMannequin

    This resonates so much with me…I even relocated to Aberdeen (from Ireland) with my husband 2 years ago for his job! He works in academia and I’m a librarian but we’ve lived in 5 cities in the past 3 years to give him the freedom to progress his career. The downside for me has been a lot of job hunting, periods of unemployment and now just part-time work in my field while I hunt for more hours. But I sometimes feel like friends and family think I have it cushy and that I’m some sort of kept woman. So I can completely empathise! But I think the bottom line is finding fulfillment in your choices. And screw all the short-sighted judgemental people – many of whom are probably miserable in their jobs anyway!

  • http://www.kayliwanders.com/ Kayli Schattner

    You go, girl! People suck and you rock. End of story.

  • http://www.sunshine2thesquareinch.blogspot.com/ Beka Johnson

    Amen, Girl! My boyfriend (husband now) dated long distance for a year. I came home in February, got married in March and moved to Oklahoma in April. Small town Oklahoma too! My husband and I chose that I would stay home so I could just be married. SO MANY PEOPLE have said “What’s your next career move?” hmmm … crafter, wife, Bible reader, professional at sleeping in. Is that a proper answer? Not to them but It is for me! Also, one person after I told them I wasn’t working full time innocently said “oh you must be soul searching”. Seriously! I knew it was an innocent comment but do you really think that crafting, blogging and learning photography is soul searching? Anyways, I’ve learned to just accept where I’m at and I have learned to ‘be ok’ not working and just being a traveling wife. =) I think our culture has made us define us by careers and that is 100% opposite of how life should be.

  • Karli Bell

    oh…i love that i found your blog. you’re living the life i dream of! and yes…i HATE that question. loathe.

  • http://www.littleredpurse.blogspot.com/ Leah S.

    I know what it feels like to feel bad about your current job situation. Even though I have a job, it’s far from my dream job and people don’t seem to value what I do. I’m learning to take it with a grain of salt and just focus on what I know is best for me and my husband at this time. IT’S A JOB! yay, and I get to do what I love on the side so for now, it’s perfect.

  • Kerry

    I think more people would love to be able to travel and see the world and can’t comprehend how it is possible. Live your dreams girl, sometimes people will always think their priorities are your priorities!

  • http://tothedayslikethis.blogspot.co.uk/ Sammy Dorn

    Go girl!!

  • Kelsey

    After I went back to school after working for quite a while I definitely know what you mean. It drives me nuts! People can be so rude! The what do you doooo all day comment is the worst.

  • http://becauseeverybodyhasastory.blogspot.com/ Cece

    I’ll take all the haters on if I didn’t have to work! Bring it on. But I know it must be annoying. Everyone has a different path. This is yours right now. Many people would kill for the opportunity. Enjoy it and don’t let those comments define you.

  • http://www.ollivandermo.com/ Mo Olivas

    I think I would feel the same way if I were in your situation. The idea of not having to work sounds amazing, but I can’t help but hear voices (both mine and my mother’s) in the back of my head telling me I can be something more than just a house wife. Regardless of that, I think if I had the opportunity to stay home all day and concentrate on my blogs and vlogs, I’d love it! I’d use the opportunity to grow something big online like OrganizedJen and other “big” YouTubers/Bloggers! My dream is the one day be able to work from home because my work will be doing stuff online.

    Mo | ollivandermo.com

  • http://www.sparklesandshoes.com/ Kelly Ann

    This is such a great post! And some people are SO rude!

    Sparkles and Shoes

  • http://eatseedoblog.com Anna @ eatseedoblog

    Oh I hate this judgey attitude. It’s the same as ‘oh you’re just a mum’ or even when some people don’t understand your job and they feel they can pass judgement and say – that’s not that hard is it? I used to be a content manager and people used to enjoy joking about me sitting on facebook all day and asking when I was going to get a real job. Remember, as I try to *but often forget, what people say to you is a reflection on them, not you. Also, you’re running a kick-ass blog and that’s awesome too. Also I love the comments you’ve got here! Seems like LOTS of people feel the same way.

  • http://jodibeansblog.com Jodi

    I love this post and I love seeing your sassy side! People can be so dumb. Don’t they remember “if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all?” Haha!

  • http://www.thehappytype.com Crystal

    UGHHHH. If you only you could have seen my face while reading this, it was going from a mixture of THEY NEED TO SIT DOWN, to YUP!! YUP!! I got asked similar conversations while living in Korea and it was a relief to get a job teaching there because then I was “legitimate” in my contributions so people would shut up. I hate people that prejudge on careers because the whole being “too” dependent thing doesn’t make sense to me AT ALL. I think it’s usually people projecting their own standards, goals, and insecurities on other people and that makes them say such silly things.

    You keep doing what you love, because at the end of the day all those people go home to their own separate houses and you and your husband are all you have. At least that’s how I started looking at the situation after another tactless question by people who had no idea what they were talking about.

  • http://www.livingwiththedoublees.blogspot.com Megan

    Amen! In the military it’s not completely uncommon for the spouse not to be unemployed. Nobody harasses you too much about it, because just like you, everyone is moving around every two years. It becomes exhausting starting over again and again each time you move. Luckily, I have been able to find employment everywhere that I have lived, until I came to New York. Now, we no longer live around military people, and I find myself being asked “where do you work” and having to sheepishly mumble some response about not really looking for anything right now. Fortunately, nobody has point blank asked me what I do all day, but it’s amazing how insecure it can make me feel when they ask.

  • http://www.freeborboleta.com Fran

    Ugh, I hate when people are all judgmental like that. I get it all the time because the minute people hear I’m a military spouse they judge me. Yet, this is the first time I haven’t had a job for an extended period of time but I’m working on my Masters degree AND running an online business. Yet, it’s not enough. I just try to shake it off but it can get on my nerves.

  • Jamie

    YAY YAY YAY YAY YAY. I cannot stress enough how much I love this post. It shouldn’t matter what anyone else thinks, as long you’re happy with your husband enjoying your life together. :)

  • http://www.marvelous-darling.com Sarah @ MarvelousDarling

    I get this question ALL THE TIME!

    My husband and I moved to Germany in late September, and I don’t have my work visa yet. Plus, i don’t speak German yet! I’m currently writing (for my own blog as well as another publication), cooking a homemade dinner nearly every night, and reading in order to keep my writing sharp.

  • http://likealittlefox.blogspot.com/ gabrielle

    when i was younger, i didn’t understand why everyone didn’t fit into the same mold when it came to working. as an adult, it’s easy to see that life is different for everyone!! i bet the people saying that to you are jealous because they aren’t happy with their own situations — or just can’t understand that we all follow our own paths. you are happy & productive, so obviously you’re doing something right!


  • http://www.diariesofanessexgirl.com/ Kate Hall

    YES Rachel! I love this post. When Dan and I move, I will be venturing into something similar and this was super empowering to read! Thank you :-).

  • vintagezest

    Ditto for me too lately! It is especially bad for me because of my previous work trajectory. However, I do feel like I am starting to contribute in a real way with my recent work. Strength in numbers girl!

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