You are not your job.

I co-own a mac and cheese restaurant.

Sounds awesome, right? For the most part, it is. This was my dream. Opening the doors to my very own restaurant. Greeting customers, cooking great food, providing jobs, designing a space, a menu, a community meeting spot. This was it. This was what I wanted my life to be about.

I got what I wanted. Everywhere I went, the first question people asked was about Homeroom. People curious about the recipes, the story behind the opening, about the location. I love Homeroom and I’m so proud of the business it has become, so most of the time I enjoy answering questions, and I respond passionately. I love recounting how my business partner and I strung the chandeliers, how our husbands built the tables and bar, how we poured our entire life savings into noodles and cheese, with neither of us having a lick of restaurant management experience. Besides my children, it was the only aspect of my life I ever spoke about.

So there’s a guy who worked at Homeroom. I’ll call him Mason. Bright brown eyes, tight black pants, and a wide open road in front of him. Mason was young, inquisitive, and had the right amount of attitude to make him extremely likable. One night following the Homeroom holiday party, Mason and I were chatting outside the Hotsy Totsy, a dingy dive bar in Alameda. He was gearing up for a night of drunken escapades, as I was desperately wishing for bed, knowing my boys would be raring to go at 5:30am. Before parting ways, he asked what I do for fun. So simple, right? What do I do for fun? Um. I was speechless. I had nothing to say. I was searching my brain, trying to retrieve something somewhat true and passably interesting.

Finally, “I run,” I said. Definitely “somewhat” true. At the time running was something I did to get a few minutes alone. “Oh,” he said.

I felt disheartened. Uninteresting. Depleted. Was that really all I had to say?

My life at the time was completely split in two: Homeroom and family. Five years prior, neither of those things existed, and now they comprised my entire being. Nothing from my spirited, spontaneous, adventurous self was left.

So here’s where it gets better — somewhere between then and now, my eyes opened. My boys still wake up at 5:30am (though less often) and I still co-own Homeroom, though my perspective shifted. I don’t need to be hanging at dive bars to be interesting. And you know what, running is awesome. Especially when you run far and fast through windy trails, up mountains, and to the edge of waterfalls. My life may have changed in the last five years, but it’s full and challenging and fun. And every day I take small steps to continually build the life that I want to lead.

I don’t care if you’re a stay-at-home-mom, a scientist, a journalist, a professional athlete, a musician or a business owner. You are more than that. You are whatever you want to be. And however you choose to see yourself, is exactly how others will see you too. And if they don’t, well, who cares.