I like to arrive late. Especially to my husband’s work parties. Everyone is already there, the lights are dimmed, the music is playing. People are gathered in small groups, chatting, laughing, well on their way to having a good buzz. As usual my husband gets pulled into one of the cliques and they’re talking shop. It’s easy for me to grab a drink, a nibble and stand in the corner and people watch.
The reason I never like to get to a party too early, is that you are inevitably confronted by that one person who makes it their own personal mission to not let guests stand alone. I am totally ok being alone. Really.
Especially at parties where I am just the tag along and I don’t know anyone. Late or not, I am usually found out and approached.
Greeting someone new for the first time is always awkward. People resort to the only conversation opener they know:
“So what do you do?”
And there it is. The question I have been asking myself everyday since I left my job a year ago. In an effort to redirect, I humour them.
“I take care of my husband. He’s a full-time job”. Chuckle, chuckle.
Only when you are repeatedly asked this question do you realize that you have been defining yourself your entire life by the actions and responsibilities that dominated your life at that particular moment.
“I’m a student.”
“I’m a mother.”
“I’m a…(insert career).”
For the first time in my life, I hesitate. What do I say that they will understand?
I know that in not answering that guest at the party directly, I will be defined as nothing. Could there be anything worse? I’m not sure. People like labels and they want to be able to stick you in one.
Could I stand the glazed over look in their eyes if I say, “I’m a writer” or how about “I’m a blogger”? I’m sure that would get rid of them pretty fast.
Of course, if I am feeling particularly feisty or getting interrogated with follow up questions, I may tell them how much money I make, sitting in my pajamas eating bon bons at my computer all day. But that’s not a pretty picture. lol
But I do love the shock on their faces when I tell them.
“You make how much???!!!”
I have grown more confident in my response the more I have said it out loud.
“I’m a blogger and online entrepreneur.”
I do love my blogs and why shouldn’t I be proud to tell other people about what I do? Helping others go down the same path as me has been one of the most satisfying aspects of blogging.
If you have re-defined yourself recently, do you have trouble answering people’s inquiries? If you do, it is probably because you have spent your whole life sticking yourself into boxes that people will understand.
But this is your time. You don’t owe anyone any explanations. You get to define you. It may no longer be based on what you do but who you are.
So who are you?
It may be exhilarating to think that you finally get to define who you are. But then again, it’s scary, isn’t it?
The best days are yet to come. Make them count.
Need some inspiration? Check out Christine’s story of how she walked away, after 25 years, from a career she loved or check out these reasons why midlife is the perfect time to start your own business.