What is it you do? Why this question makes me feel a liar.
Do you ever find yourself mumbling your response when asked what it is you do? That was me for years. I’d dread that question at social events when meeting someone new. They always seemed so sure of themselves. Perhaps they practised this elevator pitch of sorts in front of a mirror one hundred times already. Or maybe, they really were that confident in their identity. Maybe they were comfortable in what it meant when someone casually threw in the “and what is it that you do?” into a conversation — like a grenade, ready to take the others out.
You see, I’ve been a somewhat closeted Creative my whole life. So although I could always answer this question with whatever 9–5 job role I was in at that particular time, it seemed like I was lying both to myself and to the person asking the question. I’ve been a Magazine Editor, Production Assistant, Marketing Manager, Sales Assistant, English Teacher and so much more during my twenty-year work history. The job role changed, but who I was and what I do, — what I really do didn’t.
I create. I am a Creative. My passion is writing. Photography. Building and being part of communities. I write poetry but am afraid to share it. I write half a novel and decide there are already enough works of art in this world for people to read over ten lifetimes so there’s no point adding mine to the mix. My temperament is that of an artist. But my answer to the age-old question of what it is I do never mentions any of these things. It’s as if unveiling my artistic, creative side to the world will mean throwing away the comfort blanket of my job title. People understand and respect the 9–5. They might not like me, not ‘get’ me if I explain my multi-hyphenated existence. So I hide. Behind the job title. Behind what may be more palatable and relatable to people who I don’t really know and whose opinion of me doesn’t really matter anyway.
I’ve blogged on and off for over a decade, without committing. Because the fear of failing on something I’m truly passionate about was too scary a proposition. It was better to succeed in areas that meant less to me. Go figure. The same goes for photography. Nothing gets me more excited than heading home after a shoot knowing that I’ve got hundreds of photos to process and edit. Nothing is scarier than sending over the finished product and hoping upon hope that they are well received.
The stomach-churning anxiety it creates tells me how much it means to me. I am that Creative who is never satisfied that her work is good enough, no matter how hard they work on it. So putting it into the world always feels like I’ve walked into a room naked. With people staring waiting to figure out if they’re about to applaud or laugh.
Why am I sharing this with you? I think it’s a way of me coming out of my hiding place to say that I’m embracing and totally owning all that makes me, well, me. I love being a Creative. It doesn’t mean I don’t also love my day job, because I do. But next time someone asks me what it is I do, know that I’ll be answering the question somewhat differently.
What is it that you do?