I confess, I have not always been the most confident when discussing my interests and goals in life. Last year, I worked part-time in a bookstore while I studied full-time at university. To some, it was just retail; a stepping stone to greater things. To me, it was the best thing I’d done in my life. I was able to speak to people all day about one of my favourite things: books! I would be asked for recommendations, and occasionally I would experience the joy of someone returning a few weeks later to tell me how much they enjoyed it. It was fascinating, meeting and talking to people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.
But a topic that came up frequently was my plan for when I left.
I think people assumed that because it was retail, and part-time, I would want something different. To “move up” in the world.
While I am currently studying and hope to use my degree in some way, having a career is not the biggest priority in my life. Working part-time in the bookstore was perfect for me because it allowed me to write and cultivate other interests when I didn’t have a shift. I was able to fulfil my sense of purpose with numerous activities rather than one career.
(As a disclaimer, I am in no way looking down upon women who are career driven. If you work full-time and find fulfillment in that, that’s great! I don’t think that every woman should stay at home in order to embody femininity.)
But as someone who does find contentment at home, I used to find it difficult sharing my interests when they are sometimes labelled as oppressive or boring. Someone would ask what my hobbies were, what I planned on doing in the future, and I’d stumble through a half-hearted answer that involved putting myself down because I was embarrassed to admit I enjoy sewing! Cooking! Organising! Gardening! I was embarrassed to say I was happy at the bookstore part-time and that I would happily stay at home and look after children if I were to have some. If I never went back to work, I would be quite happy. (With a slowly dwindling savings account, but happy.)
While I do not agree with the lockdowns that took place in NSW last year, one benefit for me was growing in confidence in what I love to do and what I would like to do in the future. I think this is partly because I was around less people, thus feeling less pressured to have a “good” answer when they asked what I was doing on the weekend. I also had the time and space to cultivate these passions of mine. I spent the last few months of 2021 sewing and baking and I loved it!
While I am not drawn towards a typical work environment, I should note that I find fulfillment in writing, and will always try to move forward with it, whether or not it brings me an income. If I wasn’t writing or working, I would struggle with my sense of purpose, but because I can write at home and cultivate it in both seasons of employment and unemployment, I can always find fulfillment.
Whether you want to go out to work each day, or stay at home, or do something in the middle, there shouldn’t be judgement or shame attached to any of it. God has given every woman different gifts, purposes, and seasons where they might be working, or might not be. I know some women who would love to stay at home, but their financial situation doesn’t allow it. Or some women who want to work but are unable to due to health reasons. There are always external factors that affect what we can or can’t do, whether we like the situation or not.
My point in writing about this in my femininity series is due to the disconnect I feel with aspects of society. There is such a big conversation going on about women being equal to men, but this can be taken too far by people saying women at home are oppressed. Or women who don’t want a career are brainwashed, or boring, or too religious. In reality, we should be celebrating women being women in the area they want to pursue! I have friends who are studying to be teachers and lawyers and scientists and I think it’s amazing they have that ambition and purpose. But that does not mean a woman who wants to cook dinner for her husband is lesser because her goals are different.
Our paths are all different, which is okay! Whatever season or environment we are in, we can bring glory to God. We can honour Him with our attitude, our behaviour, our words, regardless of our environment or who we are interacting with.
I am currently an unemployed uni student. While I will want to find a job this year, I am serving Him when I wash the dishes, when I submit my essay, when I write a poem, when I sew a cross-stitch pattern. We can honour Him in so many ways and do His will in so many different areas.