Walang Hiya - Without Shame (Part 2)
We first explored loving your body without shame. This week, I want to explore a type of shame that doesn't come up very often if at all, even in conversations about self-care.
As a child of immigrants and being an immigrant myself, there was this inherent pressure to live up to the American Dream. We came to this country to have more opportunities, to rise into the middle class, and to live a comfortable life.
Living a comfortable life means job stability after higher education. At least, that's how it feels in my family. I'm sure there was hope that I would become a doctor or dentist or some other well-paid professional. Instead, I studied psychology, pursued a Masters in Social Work, and chose a career in sexuality and pleasure education.
I joke about how I chose a path where I could help people, even if it meant that I couldn't pay my own bills. Even though I am also in the retail side of sexuality, I ultimately choose passion over profits.
Even more so, I chose a completely nontraditional path. One that my parents have struggled to understand, and perhaps have even been embarrassed to explain what I do to others. I can't tell you how often I've heard my mother say that I was working with "weird" products or that what I was doing was "weird." I also can't tell you the number of times my mother has suggested that I go back into school to get a business degree. This is tame based on what I've heard about others.
A career in sexuality, even the educational side of it, has its own specific type of struggles. In a society that devalues bodies based on their appearance, emotional intelligence, and pleasure, it is not uncommon to be given strange looks once you explain your career. I've heard of countless partners who become insecure, angry, and abusive because their partners are involved in the sex industry. In Athena's, there have been too many distributors who left because the were not getting any support from their partners. They were made to feel shameful of their interest in sex toys, when the real shame is that their partners made them feel that way at all.
Of course, when it comes to people who are supposed to care for us, we want them to be happy. Not just "happy," but "happy with us."
At the end of the day, I certainly want my loved ones to be happy with and proud of me. I want them to be proud of what I do and how I'm helping others. And yet, I know this is not what my parents wanted for me, so I can't say whether or not they are actually proud. I also know that I am happy with my chosen career, even with all its struggles. I have found community, friendship, chosen family. I have learned so much and want to keep learning more. At the end of the day, I chose my own wants and needs.
I've certainly felt shame around my profession of choice, especially since I know it wasn't part of my parents' American Dream. However, here's what I believe to be an interesting conundrum. Is it not part of the American Dream to pursue what I'm passionate about?
There has been a long history of people choosing paths that they felt they had to take. Perhaps there's a family business, or a sense of feeling like their path was chosen for them by parents and society. There's also nothing wrong with that choice, especially if it's one that brings you joy and pleasure.
Could you imagine, though, if people were able to make a career out of something they were truly passionate about? If they were able to make a career from something they enjoyed, even if it's generally considered a "hobby"? If they were able to explore their interests before retirement?
A job is an obligation. The work you do is the piece that matters. That passion and pleasure in the work can define your profession. There's no room for shame in that.
How will you be releasing Professional Shame in 2018?
.......To be continued next Friday!