I had a long professional identity crisis in my thirties and forties. After practicing law for a brief period, then caring for young children, the wandering and searching for the "thing I was meant to do" ensued.
For years, I felt frozen—and shame—every time someone asked me "What do you do?"
You know that question everyone inevitably asks when they first meet you.
I stammered and made apologies when I didn't have a simple—or satisfactory-to-me—answer, and pretty much wanted to dig a hole and bury myself in it in those moments.
I forgot that I had been a teenager who published my first article when I was a high school senior, a personal essay in my local newspaper about a study abroad experience in England.
My father, back in New York with the rest of my family, had mailed me a copy of the newspaper clipping with this note: