In the latter half of 2017, I took my ‘job title’ off of my social media bios. Wild move, Michelle. Wild. We’re in the generation of the Slashie, unconventional jobs that are made up all sorts of aspects that thus create a portfolio career. I’ve a friend that’s both a nurse and an Etsy seller, another that teaches by day and works the comedy club circuit by night… and, of course, several of us bloggers juggle multiple gigs in full-time jobs as well as multi-tasking several ‘roles’ as bloggers.
The faux Badge of Honour
I realised last year that the glorification of being busy wasn’t doing me any favours. For somebody that had decided to dramatically leave her dream 9-5 job in luxury fashion in pursuit of being able to both work AND enjoy my days as a twenty-something, I was spending a lot of time ‘being busy’ from 9-5. I’d open conversations with ‘I’m so busy’ and would feel a smug sense of pride for overworking myself whilst my peers happily finished work at 4.59pm and strolled out of their office doors without a care in the world. I’d wear a badge of honour for spending every waking moment doing something. What for?
Shortly after graduating University, it became evident that the 99 other girls on my course and I were in some strange unspoken competition to get ahead. The recession meant jobs in fashion journalism and similar roles were scarce and getting a job of any sort was like finding golddust. When I nabbed my first role just a week after packing up my bags, I proudly displayed ‘Junior Product Editor’ on my Facebook page and watched the ‘Likes’ roll in. And as the years progressed, blogging became a career and Girl Boss was popularised and suddenly it was all the rage to be doing everything and proving the naysayers (who even are they?) wrong.
‘I’m Michelle and…’
As somebody who is almost genetically geared to aspire to success (my parents are pretty successful businesspeople in the property and restauranteur industries), I knew from the get-go that I wanted to be the same. I found myself working my way up the fashion editorial chain, but slowly losing my passion and losing any sort of time to pursue what I really wanted to. Despite not knowing exactly what that was, instead I’d find myself filling lunch hours with blog post writing, my evenings with scribing business plans and morning commutes with non-fiction reading about starting your own business. I became a product of my own career vision.
When it came to early twenty-something life, too, I’d introduce myself at social engagements and networking events by my job title. ‘I’m Michelle, I’m a marketing assistant’, not ‘I’m Michelle, I like puppies, find bodies of water calming and love a good G&T’. Why was my self-worth becoming entirely defined by my job, when it didn’t even feel like my forever thing?
I’m two years into working for myself now and, oddly, I finally feel that I’m not defined by my career. If the only thing worthy about me was that I worried about late invoices and missed payments all the time or that I hoped for Honey + Chai to become my full-time gig one day, I would probably lose my mind. As with so many other individuals, it’s pretty risky and damaging to pin your self-worth on factors beyond your control. How much you’re earning. How many titles you can accumulate. How fast you can prove the naysayers wrong. How much free time you do or do not have. Thus when work goes awry, my self-worth isn’t affected, it isn’t personal, after all. I’m a human behind what I do to make a living. I’m a red lip enthusiast, I always make time to pet a dog en route to any destination, I like to sneak a McDonald’s breakfast and coffee before Friday morning dog walks, I’m a friend to thousands on Twitter, I’m a sister, a daughter, a girlfriend.
I’m not letting my career define who I am, and it’s pretty great.