I think most people believe this is how I spend my days. Sitting at home taking nonsensical images on Snapchat. And I must admit, I have fallen into the trap on [more than] a few occasions.
I’m new to the UAE and have met loads of new people who, as conversation starters, ask for my profession. Totally normal. I’ve stopped saying ‘teacher,’ simply because I’m not one any more. I’m a ‘housewife.’ Although this is totally normal for the expatriate community in the UAE, people back home in particular tend to find this an extremely unusual phenomenon.
“So, what is it you do all day?” is the most frequent question I have been asked since moving to the UAE by people here and back home. And without ill-intention, this question can conjure up many negative connotations and can be a difficult one to answer.
In the Western world, I’ve realised we place a lot, no, too much emphasis on the jobs we do. We believe that our purpose is in our work and with it, our identity. Being a teacher gives you an insight into who I am; it means I’ve been educated up to post-graduate level, I get on with young people (you’d hope) and I’m free in the summer.* I suppose that’s why we ask ‘the profession question’ first – so we can suss out who we’re talking to and maybe tailor our own behaviour to match. This makes us feel safe and secure in social situations and increases our chances of being liked.**
But now I’m no longer a teacher, it seems as though people are thrown off. They don’t know what to say. A housewife can be a housewife for a number of reasons. Am I looking for work? Have I lost my job? Am I just plain lazy? Am I unwell? Am I traditional and believe men should bring home the turkey bacon? Am I pregnant (I know my waistline has grown a couple of inches since moving here)? The possibilities are endless, leaving the questioner insecure, uncomfortable and awkward.
It’s interesting how people respond to you depending on the job that you do. Back home, there is definitely a stigma attached to people who don’t work. It’s clear to see particularly with the rise in TV programmes aimed to expose those living off the state. We have the perception that if people are able-bodied but still not working, then they are not contributing to the economy and are dependent on the government. I feel as though living in a tax-free society removes this stigma, as people don’t feel as though others are living on their money, I suppose. I say all this to note that actually, I’ve gained a lot more respect for people who don’t work. Running the house is an enormous task. There’s always so much to do. And that’s with just two of us- we don’t even have kids yet! I can’t even begin to imagine what that’s like…
Anyway, I’ve realised that what’s most important is not to internalise it. Thank God for my husband and sister who metaphorically knocked some sense back into me when I began to question my existence. I haven’t changed, my circumstances have. I’m still me.
It hasn’t been easy. Sometimes I feel like I know exactly what I want to do in the future and have figured out exactly how I’m going to get there, deadlines and all. And then other times, I’m completely clueless. Sometimes I feel like this is a season of resting and rejuvenating, and other times I feel like I’m wasting my time. Can anyone relate?
But d’you know what? I’ve stopped worrying. I don’t think this free time will last forever and I’m not going to apologise for being blessed with lie-ins and Netflix binging opportunities. I’ve come to the realisation that I was able to do my job well because of my make up. I’m passionate about young people and education, so I became a teacher. And I’m still passionate even though I’m no longer teaching. My disposition enables me to do my job, not the other way round. Identity first, occupation second. So regardless of what it is that I do, I still have my ambitions, talents and values. And those are the things that really make me ‘me.’
Anywho, I’ve included some of the stuff I do in the daytime so that you’re aware that:
1)I’m not a bum
2)I’m not an alien as the above picture suggests, even though I am currently jobless, so you can talk to me like a normal human being
I’ve found that I miss my husband terribly when he’s away at work. When he gets home, I like the home to be clean and I try to make sure dinner is at least cooking because I know he’ll be hungry from a long, hard day at work. However, after ‘catering 2 my man,’ I terrorise him.
Throughout the day, I message Massimo about shocking events in One Piece (the anime he got me into that we’re both obsessed with). Now that I have time on my hands, I’ve caught up on about 200 episodes. Don’t hate, appreciate.
I’m learning to cook new recipes using the help of the internet. This is the beginning stage of curry goat. I got the recipe from a Jamaican dude on YouTube called Chef Ricardo. The food came out great and he is a very interesting commentator. Click the link if you want a good laugh and great-tasting food.
I eat out!
I swim, then chill by the pool and read. Sometimes I swim again, then read again.
I learn how to do stuff on Youtube. I got invited to an Emirati wedding and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to learn how to style a hijab all by myself.
I’m a social butterfly. This is us brunching!
I take in the beauty this amazing city has to offer.
And of course I spend quality time with my one and only.
*Contrary to popular belief, we teachers typically work through all our holidays. Summer is the only time we really have off. And when plane ticket prices skyrocket.
**Glad that Psychology degree wasn’t a total waste!