I was engaged in an interesting discussion based on this blog post via Twitter. Based on the question, “What do you do for a living?” the writer of the blog post thought that the “photographer” should have identified himself as a bartender since that is how he pays his bills.
I think I agree more with the photographer/bartender.
Since my divorce, I have struggled with my identity and with the different hats I wear. Over time I’ve grudgingly accepted the “runner” hat, because I really can’t avoid it after running multiple 5ks a week for a number of years, and running periodic 5k and 10k races. I image this hat as more of a headband to keep my hair out of my face.
I grudging accepted the “writer” hat because I’ve written hundreds of blog posts, many poems, a Masters thesis, peer-reviewed journal articles, a dissertation (almost), and I’m working on a book. This hat looks like a black fedora with a long, red feather.
I grudgingly accept the “artist” hat, because I create drawings, paintings, mosaics, jewelry. I’ve even sold some of my art!
This hat is one of those flamboyant monstrosities they wear at English royal weddings.
Now, if someone asks what I do for a living, I will fill my societal duty, and I will tell them I am a teacher.
But what do I really do for a living?
I teach. I write. I create art. I create music. I photograph things that catch my interest. I create DIY projects. I shoot my bow. I hike. I practice yoga. I play my guitar and ukulele. I experiment in the kitchen. I listen to music. I socialize with my fellow human beings.
It takes all of these things to feed my soul, and they are all a part of who I am. It takes all of those things for me to really live…
I balk at being expected to define myself primarily on how I make money and pay my bills, even though I’m one of the fortunate who has a job that feeds my soul. I balk at society expecting that of any of us. It is extremely limiting.
It hints at the idea that what we do for pay is the only thing we do of worth.
If “a living” automatically equates to what we do for money in our society, we need to change the idea of what “a living” looks like immediately.
Because it ain’t just that!
We need to be open to hearing what others do to live. Maybe that is intimately tied to their job/career, but maybe it’s something else.
I’ve worked really hard to take down the walls that no longer serve me and figure out which ones are still standing. I’ve been going through the process of creating myself. You get to create yourself too! And we all get to decide what we feel comfortable sharing with other people.
For those who stick around, the full story will begin to emerge. Those people will begin to see all of our hats. Maybe some of them are beat up and fashioned from straw. Maybe some are high fashion with feathers and frills. Regardless, the ones who accompany us on our journey begin to see our full, authentic selves, instead of the self confined by societal standards.
What do I do for a living? All of the things that feed my soul. If we talk, I might share some of those things with you.
I’ll certainly be thinking about which hat I’ll be wearing when someone asks me “What do you do for a living?” in the future!