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.