Who Are You? Who do you want to be?
I ask you not to confuse this with what you do. If your initial reaction was to answer with your profession, I ask you to rethink yourself.
Granted, what you do can be a tell-tale indication of your nature. Then again, it may not. Your career, however, is not who you are. Most of my closest friends are certainly not defined by their profession, though all are very successful and well respected at what they do. Francis, Mary, Bonnie, Teran, Vince, and my Marcus are all respected even more, however, for who they are and how that shines through their titles and work tasks.
I would not describe Francis, for instance, as a Inside Account Representative, despite the fact she wins awards for her dedication to her work. I describe Frank, in part, as someone who is well disciplined, fiercely competitive, deeply compassionate, loyal and forgiving, a devoted family wife and mother, conqueror and warrior, best listener I have ever known, with a penchant for picking on you in the warmest way that you never feel victimized but always realize you are laughing at yourself… I could even tell you that she loves baking, that she loves pineapple and melons over desserts (despite a few allergic reactions over the years!), and that she loves Coach. But those things are things she does and likes, and not real accounts of who she, as a person and woman, is.
I have to ask myself, who am I? Who can I be?
If you find yourself unemployed for a long period, like myself, you know you can start to feel your own worth desperately slipping away. Unless you know you. And thus your priorities.
The biggest challenge is that while hunting for your next career step (whichever direction that may be), everyone wants to pigeon hole you! Even YOU find yourself doing it!
My career started at NBC 17, which I am proud to say was revolutionary for me. I spent a third of my time helping news media find ways to be more relevant to the local public. I spent a third of my time exploring the newest, most cutting edge (and even ridiculous seeming) communication technology (we made so much fun of Twitter when we signed up in the summer of 2007!). I spent a third of my energy getting to know local non-profits and initiatives.
How amazing – to be able to mesh traditional media with the true needs of the community, and by exploring and playing with new toys and communication methods. I left that job after nearly two years in order to pursue creative risks, artistic flair, and sustainable community causes in Asheville.
Yet, I cannot tell you how many times I have been told within minutes of meeting people, “Wow, you have great experience, but we have nothing in public relations.”
Literally, I have been told this and “Oh, we could really use a media specialist!” so many times, that I began hearing myself say, “Who wants to hire me? Marketers and publicists are a dime a dozen, and who can’t talk for a living?!”
Which honestly proves my point. I do not want to market for the sake of marketing. I do not want to talk for a living because I can.
I want to market something I believe in. I want to talk about something I am passionate about. I know I am a cause-driven person. I work very hard within to stay fair and avoid being judgmental. I am passionate about health. Regaining our health. Reclaiming our bodies. I am passionate about art. And relating to people. And honesty. And authenticity. And laughter. And the concept of neighbors who know each other. And joy for the masses. And family… and God.
I am a damn good talker (give me a mission; I will create an amazing presentation – I guarantee it!). I am compassionate and thus great at justifying just about anything… which can be a fault. I am a constant advocate of the contrary because I cannot help but look at how things might be different than perceived. I am optimistic and hopeful – and always choose naivety of the possibilities over risking feeling jaded by life and closed to the “what if”.
I want to imagine who I can be… whom God intends me to be, and to live my life according to that lofty goal.
I will encourage myself to put my most creative foot forward (and stop using cliches), keep my smile real, and play make believe if imagining who I can be might turn that into a better reality.
Do you imagine who you can be?