Self Defining Moment

I was introduced to a new person, yesterday, not remarkable, I know. And in the course of the conversation, she asked me,

“So, Lisa…What is it, you Do?” again, pretty standard stuff. But, I paused in answering. Here is where it gets interesting. It may have been the way she asked me or the mood I was in that day. I wanted to answer this question in a different way. I struggled because, the answer was not that I am a social media manager or in marketing or even that I am a writer. It felt like the answer was more than all of that or maybe simpler.

A year ago, I lost my job. I didn’t just lose my job. I was fired from my job. A year ago, I was fired from my job that I took pretty seriously. I was the General Manager of an eco fashion design company. It was a consuming job and I loved it. I also hated it. I was certainly defined by it. So, a year ago when people asked me what do you do? I had a quick definite answer. I am this thing I do to earn a living and not much else, thanks for asking, now I really must be getting on because I have some important work to do and a deadline and I have to go. I thought about my job all the time. I came home spent and brought my work with me. I made dinner begrudgingly and felt dread over the children’s homework time. I would often check out of evening family time to read a bit before falling asleep (the reading and falling asleep bit hasn’t changed much- guilty as charged).  A number of years went by with this routine. I was my work. And then, WHAM. No more. I was fired.

My definition of self was gone. The answer to the What do you Do question became- I don’t know. The question itself became, who are you? and still I didn’t know. AND this really freaked me out. I spent a good amount of time crying and feeling lost. I’m still working on a new definition, a new answer. Here is the cool part, I know the answer no longer starts  with how I earn a living. And I love my new work. It is exciting to talk to folks about their passions, projects, hopes and work with them to move those forward. I get to do this everyday! It’s incredible. It’s creative, interesting, engaging and paying the bills, But, it isn’t What I Do. It isn’t Who I am.  And wow that is some freeing shit right there! The answer to that question will never again come from an external source. I will no longer define myself by my work status or anything else that isn’t me.

If asked that question today, I might say, “I help people.” And that seems to lead into a very interesting conversation. Which is another thing, I Do.

22 thoughts on “Self Defining Moment

  1. tear tear…love this…thanks for being so willing to be vulnerable as it creates the space for others to also be vulnerable. xxxxx

    • Thanks for reading and for the comment! I like what the shift in thinking did for me, from occupation to purpose- maybe?

  2. Thank you for posting this…something I’ve been thinking about myself lately, especially as work never seems to slow down…but I seem to be.

    • Having a feeling for what I am, rather than what I do–I’m a creator, I’m a helper–that sort of thing- I think is going to help me as my career changes, as my family changes (kids growing up) or I just decide to do something totally new. I will still retain my sense of self, knowing those things about myself. Make sense? Thanks, Janette for your comment.

      • It does make sense. It also makes me think I don’t have a good understanding (yet) of who I am…I find it’s not easy for me to figure it out. Sounds silly…

      • I don’t think it sounds silly, at all. I’ve been trying to answer that question for 44 years- talk about slow! I think I may have some of it figured out and then I change my mind. This is a marathon and not a sprint, I am in it for the long haul. One thing that really helped me was starting with a list of 50 things I wanted- and be selfish, 50 things just for you. They can be material, emotional, anything- dream big- you might see something in that list as you work on it. I know I got a lot clearer about how I wanted life to be and the clarity makes it easier to achieve. You know what you are longing for, just listen to that. And know that you have company on your way.

  3. You are so right. We are not what we think we are and often choose to identify ourselves to ourselves. Life gives us a right turn…through no choice of ours and bright insightful people, like yourself, step back, learn from it and take a risk and follow our heart.

    Nice job..

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