We fight for a good portion of our lives to live up to our potential, to be identified, to be defined.
“What do you do?” is the question the world has been preparing us to answer since we were grade school.
I’m a pediatrician.
I’m a lawyer.
I’m an astronaut.
I’m a computer programmer.
I’m a dancer.
And it’s those specific answers that allow mothers and fathers to quickly boil you down in a nutshell. It’s what lets mailmen and neighbors say, “Oh that’s great,” so that they can all then talk about the weather in peace.
And it’s those specific answers that allow the people you meet to make snap judgments on the kind of person you are; from potential bosses, business partners or mates.
It’s no wonder then that we validate ourselves not on the kind of person we are, but on the kind of person people think we are when we say what we do.
And as the creative world, self-promotion, entrepreneurship, and innovation practices seep into everyday life, the lines of the box of what you do are not just being blurred, they are being breached.
We all want a slice of the new-age pie and we want to tell everyone about it as soon as possible.
And so we have change agents, chief happiness officers, career strategists and the like popping up left and right.
Want to say you’re an author because you self-published a book? You can.
Want to say you’re a speaker because once you finagled your way on your alma mater’s campus to talk to leadership club on your own dime? You can.
(My god, even my own Linkedin profile has my title listed as: “Instigator, Coach, Entrepreneur.” How flim-flam does that sound?!)
But slowly on in life you learn that just because someone says they live a sexy life, doesn’t mean they do. Behind the “co-founder” and “creator of” veneer, there is often a house of rubbled confidence.
I’ve been guilty of that from time to time.
I’ve turned down work or titles because they weren’t sexy enough in other people’s eyes – in the story I was telling – because I hadn’t stopped and thought about the pressure of living the facade.
Your job title doesn’t define whether or not you can live a life worth talking about.
What you do is not who you are.
Who you are is what makes you sexy. What you do is sexy enough.