“So what do you do?”
“Whatcha been up to lately?”
“So what do you do here all day?”
The questions are harmless. People are looking for conversation and common ground. But has that question ever stopped your brain, as you struggle to find an answer? It usually comes out like, “Oh, not much.” And then your brain screams, “What are you talking about? You’ve been running and gunning for a week, doing five million different things and you’re calling it nothing?”
Or you have a job that people think isn’t hard and challenging that’s actually filled with complex tasks and skills no one knows it entails. Or you have a career with a fancy name that you have to explain every time you say it and people’s eyes glaze over as you try to briefly summarize a typical workload.
Or maybe who you are has nothing to do with your job. You say one thing and think, “But what I really am is a _____________.”
I struggled with this. I knew what I wanted to be, but there were no good words for it.
“Writer” paints an instant picture of a dreamer, cooped up in a fantasy world, ignoring responsibilities and pounding away at keys under the delusion that he’s writing the next best seller while friends and family shake their heads.
“Novelist” does the same thing, only adds a hint of pretension. It makes me think of someone parading around with a stack of printed pages, informing everyone what he does to boost his ego and prove he has a “real job.”
“Authorpronuer” comes close and I use it, but it also requires explaining – I’m an author entrepreneur releasing my books through my own publishing imprint. That’s better. It more accurately conveys what I do and that I’m dead serious about it. My books are art, but my publishing is a business and I treat it as such.
But it’s only been recently that I’ve identified and become comfortable with who I am. I am first and foremost, a storyteller, who brings my characters to life. This is true. Sometimes they’re within the pages of a book, sometimes they’re coming from an actor’s mouth on stage or in a recording studio. One day, they’ll be in film.
And it doesn’t matter that I don’t have a label or a string of letters after my name. I am a story-teller. That’s what I was born to be, that’s what I do, and that’s where I’m going.
What are you? When you boil it down, take away the fancy terms and long explanations about what all being you entails, what are you really?
Do you know it’s enough? Your passion makes you who you are. It makes you unique. And it’s what makes you awesome, no matter if you can wear that label with pride or try to keep it hidden.
Be you, Friend.
Just be you.