Dating a carpenter taught me my career is not my identity. He doesn’t worry about getting laid off and just focuses on the next job.

    Nia Springer-Norris and her partner work in different industries and learn from each other.

    Courtesy Nia Springer-Norris

    I’m a journalist and consultant, and my partner is a carpenter.He changed my perspective on work and taught me my career isn’t my identity.Watching his cycle of layoffs made it bearable when I lost my job.

    I met Tom at a bonfire hosted by a friend of mine. That night, he sent me a message, and the conversation hasn’t ended nearly four years later. We became an item when I separated from my now-deceased ex-husband.

    When Tom said he was a carpenter, I thought of artisan furniture in quaint New England shops. The reality was that he worked in concrete and did hard, manual labor that ruined his knees and led to arthritis in his mid-40s.

    I had just started my writing career when Tom and I met

    My family likes to say we’re a union family — my great-grandmother Maida was a dressmaker whose organizing career took her to Africa, England, and Turkey to advocate for labor rights. Now, we are rather white-collar. My granddad — Maida’s son — was an attorney and my grandmother led a foundation. I went to private schools and toured the country performing slam poetry with my mother.

    I spent my 20s hopping around the country before having kids in my 30s. This delayed my career. In my mid-30s, I began writing and returned to school. My writing career had just begun when Tom and I became acquainted.

    We worked in entirely different industries

    The first time he told me he’d been laid off, I told him I was sorry. He wasn’t. He told me all jobs in the trades end eventually, and layoff is an inevitable part of the process. This was new to me — most jobs, I’ve worked a few years until I quit.

    As I finished undergrad, became a serious journalist, and began my master’s degree, the only thing changing in his world was the addition of me and my children. His work remained the same. A job. A layoff. Another job.

    I was doing all new things: teaching public speaking to college freshmen, interviewing authors, learning about artificial intelligence for my thesis.

    Before my last semester of graduate school, I accepted a senior leadership job at a nonprofit. When my position was eliminated due to a funding cut six months after I started, watching his cycle of layoffs made mine bearable.

    He often says, “I came here looking for a job, and I’ll leave here looking for a job.” I tried to keep that attitude and stay optimistic. I put my head down and pitched editors and I made enough money that I was kicked off unemployment before my second check.

    That summer, I took a part-time consulting job and focused on my journalism career. I wrote my first cover story, and developed ongoing relationships with editors that have kept the money consistent.

    Nia Springer-Norris is a journalist and her partner is a carpenter.

    Courtesy Nia Springer-Norris

    We’ve learned from each other

    As my career blooms, Tom’s is winding down. He is set to retire with a full pension by 50 and he would like to do something else — perhaps continue his education or open a deli — when he is done.

    Construction is slow and he has been off for six months. But he takes good care of our home and loves my children like his own. He would like to find another job doing furniture assembly, which is easier on the body than concrete — but the offices he put together last year are empty because none of us “office folk” want to return in person.

    He’s taught me that my career is not my identity. Jobs are just jobs, and I put most of my energy into my writing. He says that I’ve taught him to look forward to retirement and a chance to do work that is more meaningful — and possibly even slightly enjoyable.

    We’ve made each other more entrepreneurial. And I know I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else.

    Read the original article on Business Insider


    Latest posts