We humans are preoccupied with professions. Hopefully, our professions not only feed our families, but our hearts, minds, and spirits as well.
Maybe it’s the obsession with profession (and what others think of them) that gets in the way of fulfillment.
Many moons ago upon graduating high school, I had a scholarship to go to nursing school. It was a profession everyone thought I’d be great at doing. There was only one problem. I didn’t want it. I wanted to want it, but I just didn’t. I chose something else that led me down a different path.
What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?
In social gatherings, the first question people usually ask is “What do you do?” It’s an intimidating question.
It feels good for others to approve, to validate that our profession is interesting. As we change and move through life, often professions are left behind or we’re forced to or want to do something else.
If someone asks now, I reply, “I’m a freelance writer.”
They’ll listen politely as I ramble on about how it’s feast or famine, sometimes isolating. I’ve been published here, there! I’m working on a novel! I’ll say.
If one has ever been a writer of any kind—freelance, fiction, nonfiction, technical—whatever the case may be, one may not understand. It’s not always rewarding. Sometimes, the pay that’s offered is downright ridiculous.
After all, writing, how hard can it be? I could write a book about how hard it is but I’d probably never finish it. Because it’s hard.
What is it that you do, do?
I firmly believe that we can reinvent ourselves if we choose to do so.
Reinvention is sometimes a choice; other times a necessity. Still, getting to the “new you” part almost always stems from the choices we make. Some walk straight down their path, others veer off to side streets. The most difficult part is accepting that the way in which you walk your path is the right way for YOU.
The people who matter don’t mind and the people who mind don’t matter.
When we accept that—we get it right, get it wrong, hurt, heal, love, hate, succeed, fail, feel joy, feel despair—we begin to realize that the complexity of being human is also the simplicity of it. We all want the same things; we just go about it in different ways throughout the journey that makes up our life map.
This is Your Life
This is Your Life began as a radio show in1948 before moving to television in the early 50s. The original premise recounted the life of a soldier. I wasn’t even a glint in my parents’ eyes then, but you see how reality shows aren’t some grand idea—they’ve been around awhile.
The show took off as celebrities joined its ranks. The newness wore off and Hollywood began to regard the show as an invasion of privacy, purportedly in the 60s. Ironic, huh?
Let’s do our own “This is Your Life.” I’ll start. Below are some of my several “professions” I’ve had from teenage years and beyond.
- Nurse’s Aide
- Fast Food Counter for four days (On the 4th day, I mistakenly rang up 433 hamburgers during peak lunch hour). I didn’t return.
- Shoe Salesperson
- Mom & Pop Video Store Counter Person (anyone reading who doesn’t know what this is; one once walked into a brick and mortar building, talked to other humans and physically brought movies up to a counter to rent.)
- President’s Assistant (not THE President)
- Sales & Marketing Executive or “Person who travels selling tchotchkes.” (Those value added items that are often included with products you buy. Seriously, there are hundreds of them.)
- Staff at Broadcasting, Nutrition, and Athletic departments at a university.
- Art Gallery Docent
- Unpaid Actor
- Personal Trainer
- Aerobics Instructor
- Radiothon Director for a large nonprofit
- Art Gallery Manager
I’m not including all the temp jobs. Are some more impressive than others? I don’t think so.
The person serving you food or handing you your dry cleaning or showing you where something is in Aisle B could be the most interesting person you’ve ever met. She or he could be working there to acquire knowledge for the next best seller they’re writing or working a few weeks before they climb Mount Everest, or working on their Doctorate Degree and they want to pick up a few bucks until they become a scientist who’ll discover a cure for the common cold.
Or maybe they’re just interesting, period.
I seriously believe we all need to put down our devices and look people in the eye when we interact with them. Everyone has a story and every story matters.
At the next social gathering if someone asks me, “What do you do?” I think I’ll reply, “I do me, and I do that better than anyone.”
I’ll let you know the responses I get.
Now, This is YOUR Life. Tell me about it and what do you want to be when you grow up? Are you where you’d thought you’d be at this point in your life? Would you change anything?
YOU are very interesting, woman. You have worn a lot of hats! And you are so right about having the right attitude when speaking with people. Everyone has a story and deserves the respect to be listened to! “I do me” that’s a good one, Ms. B.
My life is very 💤💤💤💤💤💤💤💤💤
Ps and you are so right…40 and beyond and and and. Twitter, instagram yada yada
Oh Twitter and all that other stuff. Oy vey. I’m verklempt and get the vapors just thinking about it.
Well, I feel the same about you, A—an extremely interesting woman with mad poetic skills. I guess when one is nomad wearing those hats is a necessity at times and other times, just fun. :).
I’ll see if I have the cojones to pull it off, the “I do me” thing. Thanks, A. Hope your Monday is going smoothly and great.
And that zzzzzzz, I’m right there with you at this point. And perfectly okay with that.
You have a lifetime of material for this point in your life as a writer. A nice look back for us.
Why thank you Allan. What about you? What’s in your life book? Besides teetering on unbelievably high bridges and not losing your cool? Surely as a teen you had an odd job or two. ;). Hope you and the Lioness are well.
My experience has been centered around construction since I was 12 years old. Drawing plans, warehousing materials; working as a laborer, then apprentice, and finally Journeyman Electrician. Checkout my Fingerprints series for a look at my early years.
Ha, I don’t have the time…:) I’ve been happily reinventing my self all my life, and I am still doing it. Fun blog, and important. –Curt
Yes Curt you are a master of reinvention! And having fun is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves while we’re figuring it all out. Thanks for reading. And stopping by in between your travels! 😄
I always enjoy your blogs, Brigitte. –Curt
Well what a nice thing to say, Curt. Thank you — that means more than you know. 😉
I’m impressed that you remembered so many paths, Brigitte! I, too spent some time as assistant to the president…only I called it babysitting grown men. I didn’t see much difference. I’m loving my current iteration: coaching by text: connecting to your own infinite wisdom one text message at a time. It doesn’t hold a candle to being my child’s mother, and I’m enjoying it more than anything else I’ve done! xoxoM
My colorful path(s) I do remember well and each taught me something. So nice to see you, M and so wonderful that you are enjoying mentoring and coaching as I’m sure it’s something you are great at doing. Be well and thank you for taking the time to read and “play along.” 🤗
You’re welcome! And, I have a horrible feeling that I deleted your comment from my post accidentally. I’m mortified, Brigitte. So, in case I can’t find it, thank you for stopping by. It’s ALWAYS a pleasure to see you, dear friend! xoxoM
It’s okay! WordPress doesn’t always cooperate or it’s easy to delete or whatever depending on what device we’re using. Always nice to see your smiling face here too Margarita. Hope all is wonderful in your world.
From age four, Brig, after I saw the film, West Side Story, I became obsessed with New York. I pretty much made it my mission in life to move here. My goal was to be an independent filmmaker, but it was a very different world in the early Eighties when I was in film school. Even though women were welcome at NYU, straight white guys ruled. I also don’t recall any people of color in the undergraduate department. For the first time in almost 35 years, I looked at the films I made when I was a student. I recently had them transferred to digital. I was unsure of what I would see, but fully prepared to cringe. Imagine my astonishment when I realized that I was good. Then, I had the confidence to show them to Milton. He was equally surprised at what he saw. I was awarded the highest Miltonian flattery. About a short film with a gay-twist I made at age 20 that caused audience members to gasp and grumble when it was screened (not at NYU, but at Stanford in the era before it became known for rapist swimmers; I went there for a while before transferring):
“You were so ahead of your time; that’s why they didn’t like what you were doing!”
About an avant-garde “tone poem” that I shot around 1980-81:
“I would never have associated you with a film like that! That’s exactly they type of film I would have made!”
At NYU, I was never seen as someone with any talent and my professors gave me a hard time about wanting to write comedy. They reluctantly approved my project, but I got little help and didn’t finish it. I left with a degree and profound feelings of discouragement. About ten years out of film school, I was able to get a lesbian-themed screenplay I wrote to Christine Vachon, a major independent film producer back then, who would go onto produce many successful films including Boys Don’t Cry, Far From Heaven and Carol. She was interested in reading my script, but more interested in knowing if I was a writer-director because that was what she was looking for. I told her that I was “only a writer.” Milton winced when I told him that story. He asked, “Didn’t you show her your reel?” I admitted, “That never occurred to me. I truly thought I had no directing talent.”
Oh, well. Shoulda, coulda, woulda, didn’t. And no, this anonymous nobody is not going to try to make a movie at this stage of decrepitude. But, my brother and Milton have been all over me to write a play. That, I am seriously considering doing.
Oh V, we grew up during the same time periods and I do understand what you’re referring to though I’m surprised it existed — even in New York City! I’d like to think that some of the things we “endured” paved the way for other women though. I can’t believe you didn’t tell Vachon that you were a director and filmmaker and writer. But then again, I was just telling a friend that women seem to hide their light and I’m not sure why that is.
I’m very glad you told your story here and although you’ve stated at this stage you won’t “make a movie at this stage of decreptitude,” I hope you’ll reconsider. I’ve had more than my share of woulda, coulda, shoulda’s. Does that mean we have to continue because we’re of a certain age? I hope not. Maybe we’re peaking late and we’ll meet one day at an awards ceremony for our incredible acting/directing/screen writing/creative something magnificent that’s just waiting to be born. It could happen.
I’d love to see that film. I trust Milton’s critique–you are a very talented soul. Can you share on your blog? And YES, YES, YES, I’m with Milton and your brother. Write your play. We women need to encourage each other more!
As always, it’s wonderful hearing from you. I love your stories, your style, and of course, your wit. Thanks, V. :). >
Brig, I didn’t tell Christine Vachon that I was a director because I didn’t identify as a director. I would have sooner told her I was an aardvark expert. I’m the product of high school educated parents that just wanted me to attain stability. They could see value in a college degree, but they couldn’t advise me about what to do with it because that experience was not theirs. I was alone on many levels figuring things out as I made my way. No one really is to blame. That’s just how it was.
As for posting my films on my site, I’m not sure that I want to do that. I’m burned out on blogging and need a new challenge. If I did attempt to write a play, that would be my sole focus. I work a pretty demanding day job, Milton and I always have a lot going on entertainment-wise and I can only spread myself so thin. I’m 399 in dog years so my energy is not quite what it used to be. That said, thanks for the encouragement and compliments. You’re always so kind.
You just explained how I felt! We have more in common than you know, V. And for the record, it’s not just being kind, as when I refer to your talent; it’s just the truth. 🙂
399 years in dog years — that’s hilarious. Some days mine is more like 402. Be well, V and thanks. >
I’ve worn several hats as well Brigitte. Graphic designer, research assistant at MIT and University of Miami Medical School, Physical Therapist, Rolfer, fine art photographer – not to mention all the avocations – musician, serious cook, fiber artist, gardener, amateur athlete (cycling and running), skier. It’s impossible for anyone to collapse their life into one or two things, I think. Your post here reminds me of how important it is the recognize all those facets that we bring to our world that do and don’t define us.
So nice to see your post yesterday. I’m in my physical therapy practice all day on Mondays, so I save your posts for a day or two until I have the time to savor them and respond. Hope you’re having a good week.
Of course you have, Cathy! I wouldn’t have thought otherwise. How interesting your life roles and thanks for sharing them. I failed to mention those things that make up who we are other than “professions” which are so important. I’d like to think of myself as an artist because I paint and sort of an athlete — because of my bodybuilding experience when I was young. I love your statement: > > It’s impossible for anyone to collapse their life into one or two things >
That should be on a bumper sticker or t-shirt! So add creative expressionism to your repertoire! 🙂 And your being a physical therapist, well that fits you as well, my friend. I hope you have a lovely week as well and thank you for adding your wisdom.
GREAT post, Brigitte! YES. I’m with you. I’m not a fan of the “What do you do?” question. Instead, I usually ask about current projects and passions, too.
Well hello Theadora—how are you and your projects and passions? So glad you enjoyed and hope things are wonderful in your part of the world. Happy Tuesday back, my friend. :). >
Thank you, beautiful woman, for something in my mail that was thought provoking. I think society is obsessed with labels, especially for each other. It’s how we identify and relate to each other and societal perception.
Change can be scary and there is that “reluctance-to-change” factor. For most of us we will not do it unless we are forced. It is scary for me; changes in income, environment, and even my label. Sometimes the needs help to alleviate the anxieties.
I love you and thank you again
Why thank you my sweet. We will always find our zen, you and I. I have a label for you from me: Soulmate. I love you back handsome. 💕😘😍❤️