You know when you are introduced to someone and the first thing they ask is "So what do you do?" It wasn’t until I quit my job that I started contemplating that question. My old response was, “Oh, I’m a C.P.A. (Certified Public Accountant)”. There would be comments about taxes (which I didn’t work on), some forced laughter and then the conversation would move on. But once I quit my job I didn’t know what to say anymore. Retired Accountant? Housewife-in-training? Unemployed and confused? I then realized that the question being asked was pure crap.
The question itself is super general. It implies that you are defined by your job. If you are a doctor that is your identity. Justin, my husband, would therefore be known as Justin the doctor. Instead of all the other pursuits and interests that he has, his choice of occupation is something that becomes all encompassing. I especially think that with the Internet and social media, there is a fixation on labels and compartmentalizing.
I sat with this sense of dread when introduced to a new person. Do I explain that I’m looking into new opportunities? “Oh, it wasn’t the right direction for me. Right now I’m focused on making sure that my household is running smoothly and that my husband is happy.” I would give this long winded answer and the recipient would just nod their head out of politeness. I had anxiety that I would be judged as lazy and not living up to my potential, whatever that was.
And then it clicked. After many hours of self-reflection, I was like, screw it. Nobody is going to define me. I will define myself. I am a wife, a former corporate drone, a great cook, a dog mom and finally an Artist. At first I was reluctant to admit to being an Artist. I hadn’t sold a painting yet, I didn’t have a website, I literally just started getting back into the groove. I didn’t think I had the credentials of calling myself one. But once I embraced the idea and admitted to myself that I was an Artist, I ultimately got the confidence to admit it to the rest of the world. With that confession, I owned what I identified as.
I see painting as my chosen profession. It is something that I love and I think about every day. It is something that inspires me from ordinary things and experiences. And it is something that is a huge part of me. But I am so much more than that.
So I finally have an answer to that age old question of “So what do you do?” I can write on the blank line under 'Occupation', so everybody asking can rest assured. And besides that clearly refined answer, I know that I am not solely categorized as that and I am everything and anything that I set out to be.