Three Annoying Questions you Get Asked when You're on a Break
- Ujwala Thirumurthy
- Back to Work, Weekend Reads
- 03 Jun 2017
“Thinking is difficult. That’s why most people judge.”
– Carl Jung
If you’re a woman who’s very often at the receiving end of daunting questions that revolve around marriage, career, or children, then you will perhaps understand this statement better than the rest.
And a career break usually attracts negativity, uncertainty and disrespect. Either you are persistently questioned about your choice, or you are constantly warned about the consequences of your choice.
“Just let me be!” is what you REALLY want to say.
Regardless of the reason that has led you to take that break in the first place, there is one question that rears its ugly head EVERY time you’re greeted by someone you’ve not met in a million years. "
"So, what DO you do”?
Unsolicited advice always comes knocking when you don’t want to open the door.
During the initial months of my career break, these questions led me to take several guilt trips – “Am I doing the right thing”? “Will I regret my decision”? “Will I EVER find a job, again?”
And I know I’m not alone.
Here are three most annoying questions you get asked when you’re on a break: (And I say annoying because NO GOOD can come of them):
- Are you pregnant?
So, let’s assume that this particular person isn’t your closest relation or friend. Yet, why must they be concerned about your decision to take a break from your career? We’ve been trained to believe that (especially if you’re married recently) the ONLY reason you can decide to stay at home is because you’re ready to bring in another tiny being into the world.
It almost NEVER occurs to anyone that there could be so many more reasons that might have led you to take a step back from your career- like to pursue your passion, to learn a new skill, to study more, or to simply reassess where you are and where you want to be.
- You’re a single parent! How do you manage finances?
This is a typical question if you’re going through a bad marriage and are trying hard to find your ground. A break from your career – however short that may be – gives you time to reset your life clock and start living it on YOUR terms. Trouble is, you’re perceived as one of these two things:
Weak, and therefore incapable of making it on your own, because “Who quits her job when she most needs it.”
Financially secure, and therefore taking it easy.
Despite all the education and awareness that we talk about, a woman is subjected to more unwarranted questions than the man, particularly when it comes to a break in the marriage. It in fact, may lead you think that answering them is a lot tougher than the situation you are in. But of course, they don't get it. They never will.
- So, you quit your well-paying job to be at home?
While you might just want to turn around and walk away instead of going through the ordeal of actually answering this question, truth is, there is no escape. They always get to see the no-make-up, no hair-done-YOU, and they think you have dived into the depths of nothingness from where there is no way out. “You will be stuck here forever if you don’t try”, they’ll say hoping to “motivate” you to get a job TOMORROW.
But, you know better.
You know that your career break is for a purpose. You know that it will be over soon, and that you need to make the most of the time you have.
Buckle up! It's just the beginning
Never let anyone make you feel inferior, or create self-doubt. Remember that starting over is an opportunity to come back better than before. Take your career break as an opportunity to hone yourself and make a stronger, more impactful restart.
To put this particular issue in perspective, let’s look at how men are viewed when it comes to their careers. How often have you come across men who ask for advice on how to seamlessly combine their marriage and career?
It’s true. You don’t find men worrying about managing home while still being the best in their job. You don’t find men who want to take a career break to raise their kids or to save a marriage on the docks. You simply don’t. And even if a handful of them DID take a break, no one really ventures into quizzing them about it, because “There must be a GOOD reason behind it!”
It’s the women who face the interrogation from a relative, an acquaintance, or simply anyone that she is introduced to. And as emotional beings, it is hard to turn a deaf ear.
How do YOU then carry on? Here’s how:
- Learn to control your fears. It takes a good amount of ignoring, AND a big wide smile to shake it all off and carry on.
- Whatever you do, do it as if it makes a difference. Because it really does.
- Stop making excuses for your career break. You are stronger than that.
- When you hit a wall, and don’t know where to go, simply kick it down. There are plenty of wonderful things on the other side of it.
And if you decide to get back to your career, remember to make a conscious decision to keep YOURSELF HAPPY! Don’t pick a job with great vacation time. Pick one that doesn’t need escaping from.
Invest in people who want to invest in you. Discard negativity, and reach for that goal. You know your worth. You don’t need anyone to tell you that.
So, the next time someone asks, “What DO you do? Answer, “Whatever it takes!”
What are you waiting for? There are hundreds of opportunities that are waiting to be explored. Come, be part of this growing talent pool of women who’re starting, restarting and rising in their careers. Come and be part of a force to reckon with! Sign up HERE to see what’s in store –from mentorship programs, to reskilling and resume-writing courses – and begin your restart journey on a high!!