If you’ve never heard of Danielle LaPorte, you are missing out on some serious soulful empowerment tips, inspiration delivered right to your inbox, and daily encouragement should you so desire. She also engages readers and fellow bloggers in Burning Questions, which is what this is: How do you say what you do? As in, when someone asks you, what do you do for a living, how do you respond?
And of course, I don’t mean that like a straightforward “Really, what do you do?” question — I mean, how do you phrase it? I’ll bet it’s typically a one- or two-word answer: “I’m a chef.” Or, “I’m a hospice worker.” Maybe “I work in mechanical engineering.” Which is all fine and good — the truth, presumably — but think about it this way: Are you selling yourself short?
As someone who wears many hats both in and out of “the office,” this question struck a chord with me because I often fall into the boring old “I’m an editor” trap. Gah. It looks as boring written out as it sounds coming out of my mouth. Do people listen to me when I’m talking after they hear that? Or are they as bored as I’m suddenly imagining, eyeing the food table, taking another sip of a watered-down cocktail, glancing around the room for a clock that will undoubtedly indicate it’s only been 7 minutes since they walked in the door and now I’m stuck talking to this girl?
Huh. To me, at least (or I suppose I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing), that sounds pretty interesting. And not only that, it’s true — it’s not selling myself short, but it’s not writing a novel, either, or inserting any unnecessary (or untrue) commentary where it doesn’t belong. You see, I used to get caught in another trap — overselling what I did for a living because I was so miserable at my job, so I found myself lying to people about the “rewarding” work I was doing and how we were always on the verge of the “next big thing” or a “really exciting” breakthrough. If I’m being honest today you may still get a different answer, depending on my mood, but this new one sounds pretty good to me, almost worth memorizing.
Hopefully, your life work (whatever you’re doing now, granted that may not be your calling, you may still wonder what your true purpose is, as I think most of us do) is more than just a JOB — “just over broke,” as Iyanla Vanzant would say — but if it’s not, or if you feel stuck in one of these or any number of traps, know that it’s just one stop on your path. And the worse it is for you right now, or the more difficult, the more miserable it makes you feel, the more you need whatever lesson it’s trying to teach you. The very thing that scares you the most, even if that’s jumping ship and striking out on a new career path, is what will benefit you the most.