I’m still getting used to telling people I’m a freelance writer. I feel like I’m now comfortable telling myself I’m a freelance writer, but I’m sensing some comprehension difficulty from non-freelancers, or perhaps better-coined, “people with normal jobs.”
When new people I meet ask the inevitable question of “What do you do?” I no longer say I am a freelance writer, because confusingly to me, people still aren’t getting it. In our gig economy with millions of people turning their side hustles into fulfilling careers, people are still treating remote positions like a foreign concept. A fantasy life, even.
You can see the questions bubbling in their minds as you try and justify the professional title that more or less defines you.
“How much money is she making?” “Why doesn’t she have a real job?” And my all-time favorite, “So your son stays at home with you then, right?”
So, to avoid the look of bewilderment, awkward silence and zero follow-up questions, I now rephrase my rebellious title with, “I work for a wellness company in California.” Which is actually what I do — It’s just part of what I do, and way easier to explain.
This got me thinking. And rather fired up.
This is what we’re all doing day in and day out, anyway, right? Rearranging our looks, our beliefs, our hobbies, and now our job titles, to appease other people?
Similar to the infuriating concept of dressing for the comfortability of others rather than ourselves, I’m finding it easier to lie about the specifics of my job, or sometimes as I like to refer to it as, “my business,” in order to ensure the other person or group of people isn’t left dumbfounded or (gasp) uncomfortable as they find themselves in the thralls of an unpredictable conversation.
But that doesn’t mean tailoring the way we look, think and act for the sake of others’ good feeling should be acceptable.
You’re Nobody Until You’re Somebody
Why are we in a constant state of molding ourselves into people who we think we should be instead of who we actually are?
It’s because deep down, we don’t want to be different. People are only praised for being different when they become famous for it.
Take, for example, the rinse and repeat model of the classic rags to riches story, or the tale of the entrepreneur who never gave up and as a result is worth $12 billion.
No one ever talks about the process in the present. It’s always the successful CEO whose story was made admirable because he started his entrepreneurial journey when he was 11 years old and got rejected 53 times before “making it.” Neat. Why didn’t that successful CEO have the zip to share his hardships while they were happening?
Because if he did, he would have heard “I told you so.” He would have been outcasted. People were probably already laughing at him for daring to believe he could do something different and prove himself successful at it, that putting it on paper perhaps would have done nothing but ruin his self-esteem or crushed his motivation to continue on. Or, maybe it would have served to help the millions of other people just like him fighting that same struggle.
So many people talk a big game about how they’re going to start their own company. And that’s fantastic to dream big and believe in yourself enough to make it happen. But are you actually taking steps to do that?
It’s the steps in the middle that need to be talked about. The steps that are soul-crushing, heartbreaking, embarrassing and financially burdensome — the steps that make you want to quit. Those are the steps that need to be shared because there is this imminent false perception that success and wealth are gained by taking “these five steps” or following what that celebrity did.
As much as we say out loud that we know working hard will get us to where we want to be, so many of us simply aren’t doing it. We’re complaining that we aren’t where we want to be yet, and it’s because we aren’t taking the time to focus on the steps in the middle that will make or break our desired career.
Own where you are in your life. Stop beating yourself up for making mistakes and start taking real steps toward the career that you want and the career that wants you.
There is no way you can attract the crowd of people you want to by doing something that doesn’t feel natural to you or being somebody that you aren’t.
Own the way you look, the words you speak, what you do for a living and the goals that you have for yourself. The people looking at you with that look of concern or judgement are the people who will be in the same mediocre job for the rest of their lives because they’re choosing safety over adventure.
Thanks for reading!