Yes, you trailing spouses/partners, I'm talking to you.
You know what I am talking about: it's the impression (continued) that your career is the lesser, the one that can be left behind. Your job is not a career, but rather something that you find again and again, a position that may or may not fit your repertoire of abilities and skills, that may or may not be in your area of expertise, and is absolutely not as rewarding as the career you left behind however many moves ago. Your job now to is make the move happen, to keep hiccups and snafus to a minimum and to grease the wheels of social interactions helping all family members meet friends.
Is it worth it? Absolutely. But that doesn't mean that it is good enough. No one is arguing that focusing on family is not important. No one is suggesting that it is not important to invest the time and effort into quality family time, raising kids, and setting up the house. Or settling in properly to a new home/country. Without a doubt, these are the most important places to invest your time. But none of these are a 'job' job.
Sure, you can volunteer. You can absolutely find meaningful organizations that do great work, and you can spend your time helping them spread their good-will. Undoubtedly, your efforts will be appreciated. Sometimes, though, it would be nice to have a meaningful and enjoyable position of decent pay in a language you are fluent in and in a field you are well-versed with. With benefits. And a position you can grow with rather than desert in two to four years.
We give up our careers for a lot of reasons. Some good: for our kids, to pursue or further our education; some perhaps-not-as-good like to follow our partners to yet another next country. It isn't that we don't want to relocate with our partners. It's just that it is really really tiresome to reinvent ourselves socially, professionally, and logistically so often. Especially when our position as the trailing spouse is unvalued and generally misunderstood by people outside of our FS world. We are an educated and capable lot, yet we are offered slightly more-than-menial positions, almost all for full-time hours leaving us little extra time to spend with our families and exploring these amazing places we are living. It doesn't really make much sense.
I don't really have any solutions. I mean, yes, you can volunteer as I mentioned before, or perhaps find a teleworking situation. You can perhaps find something at the local school. Or a local company. But yes, you will have to reinvent your job-self every new country, every 2 to 4 years. Frustrating as it may feel, the value of being gainfully employed (even if the compensation is not great) is worth the effort. So, take a deep breath, square your shoulders, and get your CV ready. I know you can do it.