(original post from 7/1/13)
It's a common question. You meet someone and are making small talk and they are trying to get to know you. It can be a large part of how we define ourselves. It makes sense that it always comes up. You know the question.... "Nice to meet you, so what do you do?"
Being from DC I'm used to this question. It is the nation's capital after all, and it's full of important people and people who think they are important and work seems to matter around here, a lot. Until recently it never really occurred to me to think too much about my response. But not too long ago I realized I was experiencing a major shift in how I would come to answer this question.
I have been really lucky to have a variety of great jobs in my lifetime. Some have paid well, some have been a lot of fun, and some taught me valuable lessons, even at the cost of my stress levels. But up until recently if you asked me what I did for a living, I would give you a simple answer of "oh I do xyz for company abc" and move on to another topic. Because that summed it up. The job, be it finance, or retail, or human resources, was just that, a job that I performed. Something I "did".
As I was going through massage therapy school and still working full time in my office world, I found myself having to give two explanations. "Well, you see, I do human resources and employee relations for a small government contractor, but I am also a massage therapy student and plan to move to that profession full time, hopefully soon!" It was such a subtle shift. Do you see it? I only had to change one word and it happened subconsciously.
I am a massage therapist. For me, massage therapy is not something I "do", it's actually who I am. I AM a massage therapist. This work I do has become a piece of what defines me. I can go on and on about the things I've learned and am continuing to learn. I can endlessly discuss anatomy (or more likely just start rambling at length about some body part until I get a deer in the headlights look and realize I need to wrap it up). I find myself staring at people as they walk down the street, mesmerized by their walk, trying to figure out what is causing that slight catch in their left hip or noting the very fine gastrocnemius definition of the woman in high heels (sorry there I go again!). And all of this fills me with giddy excitement.
For the first time ever, I not only have a job, I have a calling. I have entered a profession that I love and something inside of me has actually shifted. That is purely amazing.
I hope this doesn't sound discrediting to all of my old jobs because they did have their purpose. In fact, I know I wouldn't be here without them. And for every person out there getting it done with a job that's "good for now", well, good for you. It doesn't make you less of who you are. It's just that this somehow now makes me more of who I am. I am a massage therapist. And for that I am profoundly grateful.
With joy and ease,
"If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are- if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time."
- Joseph Campbell