I’m chicken sitting this weekend. Well, I should say we’re chicken sitting this weekend. The man drives; I ‘do’ the birds.

This is our life now.

Our neighbour ‘up the hill’ has chickens, as do we. Therefore, we are mutually obligated to do this bit of pet sitting. The lady farmer down the hill does not have pet chickens, so she is exempt from this duty.

I do not care for our up the hill neighbour, but, chicken kennels (chickenries?) are few and far between and, on occasion, the man and I want to venture off the hill for more than a few hours, so we are bound to our up the hill neighbour and she to us.

Such is life.

Last night, as I treaded through the muck of the up the hill neighbour’s chicken run to secure her birds for the evening, I thought to myself: did I jack it all in too early? Do I really want to be a stand-by chicken sitter earning absolutely no money at all instead of a moderately powered executive earning more money than I could ever need?

Did I jump ship too soon?

Now, I know what the ‘right’ answer is. I know what everyone wants me to say. I know that I’m supposed to wax lyrical about the great outdoors and nature and the fur and feather babies and all the time I get to spend with the man. I know that I’m supposed to have found myself – or at least the good part of myself – here in the great outdoors. I know that releasing myself from the constraints of the nine-to-five should have given me a freedom I’ve never known.

In large part, that’s all true.

But, it’s also not quite as simple as that.

I never had a ‘calling’. I never felt passionate about my ‘career’. I never had a mentor or an advocate or even an advisor to guide me toward one field or another. I just sort of wound up doing something that I was maybe sort of good at. (In fact, that’s me being unfair on myself. I was bloody good at what I did, I just didn’t care about it.)

For a long time, I tried to care. I tried to carve out a ‘career path’. I tried to imagine my end goal. I tried to make wise career decisions, moving to this job or the other for better ‘opportunities’. But finally I just had to face the fact that I did not care. My career gave me no ‘satisfaction’.

Therefore, I reckoned, best to view it as a means to an end and start focusing on how the man and I would enjoy our days together. A life of leisure. An early retirement. Dare I say it, the good life.

What I failed to account for, though, is that whether I cared about what I was doing or not, whether or not I was passionate about my job, whether or not I had followed my calling, my identity was very much wrapped up in that role.

For a hard-core introvert like me, those jobs gave me a very safe environment to interact with people. ‘On’ and ‘off’ times. Rules of engagement. Playing fields complete with referees in many regards. The result: the best true life friends of my life have come from work.

The rules and regulations gave me a structure within which to define my appearance, to test my ability to interact, to make decisions, to express emotions. I was exposed to a wide array of people, and I could choose whether I liked them or not and when the five o’clock bell rang, I could decide whether I would continue to engage or not.

In truth, the clear definitions were liberating.

Now. Now, I’m free. There is no alarm clock dictating when I arise. There are no meetings demanding that I dress ‘appropriately’ – or even that I shower.

And there is no ‘off’ time.

So, frankly, I miss it. I do. I miss the challenges. I miss the politics. I miss the nonsense. I miss – and this is as much a shock to me as it will be to you – I miss the people.