What do you do? 

It's one of the most common questions we get asked. Sometimes this question is posed before ones like how are you?

Much of our identity is formed through our job(s). I used to identify a lot of with what I did for a living. Speaking as someone who's recently quit her full-time job of 6+ years to pursue dreams of moving and working in London, this post is about work, identity, and jobs — and how I've come to redefine all three. 

My early 20s were slightly predictable and you couldn't pay me to re-live them. HOORAY for turning 27! After high school, I went to college, after college I did an internship, after that, I started working. I worked really hard. I got a job that not only paid my bills but that I genuinely loved. I had made it (whatever that means). There's a lot of pressure to get that first "real" job. There isn't as much of a focus on what to do after that. After a six year career, I accomplished a lot. I learned a lot. I worked very hard to get to where I did. But I did reach a point where I didn't feel challenged. I stopped growing at the rate that I wanted. I felt that I needed a big change. 

These past two months have been strange in that I haven't been working full time for the first time in over six years. This time has been so valued and has allowed me to figure out what's next. It has also taught me the value of not letting one single job be my whole life. When I let go of everything I had created — a career, a job, a work-life, I could clearly see who I am without it. For me, this was the only way to really know and feel my worth. I've given myself the opportunity to take a minute to sense my next career direction and I'm really excited about what I now know. 


The difference between my job and my life's work

I was listening to one of Oprah's podcasts and her guest was Wes Moore discussing if jobs are our life's purpose. He said something that really resonated with me. He said that our job is not our (life's) work. What we do for a living shouldn't define our identity. 

We all need money to live on. This is reason enough to not define ourselves by what we do. This whole experience has made me take a deep look at how I spend my time. I thought I would be so bored during the job search here in London. The truth is I've been just as busy as before — despite not working full time. My life's work as I now call it, is the reason why I've been so occupied. All the while I was working full time at the beginning of my career, I didn't realize that I was also planting seeds that would serve me later on.

Shirt: French Connection. Pants: Primark. Shoes: H&M. Glasses: Clearly

What have I been up to? 

I have been working part-time in a yoga studio at reception as well as teaching a class once a week. For the month of September, I've been volunteering at the London Design Biennale three days per week. In between, I have been doing photoshoots, writing blog posts, and of course — applying to full-time jobs. I've been meeting people and making friends, exploring my new city, and organizing the admin of my life. These things make me so happy. They are part of my life's work. 

Who you are, what you do, the affect you have on others, what you give, what you create — these are what define your life's work. The trick is finding opportunities to do all of the above. Once I began to focus my thoughts on the things I am passionate about, the opportunities started to appear. 


How it's formed and how I am re-inventing mine 

Identity really fascinates me. It's so fluid. So sensitive. We almost have to watch it and how it affects us. For a few years at least, my identity was hazy. It wasn't strong or confident. I was just trying to keep my head above water and going with the so-called flow. 

I re-designed my resume two months before I moved to London. I also made a creative portfolio. These were the hardest documents I've ever had to create. I realized that I had sort of lost touch with what I was capable of. What was I made of? I asked myself this a lot. It turns out I was made of all these awesome things that had become such normal parts of my day that I never took the time to appreciate them. 

I had to take the time to figure out what I had to offer of value, what my skills were, and feel confident in naming off accomplishments. I had to become an expert in my own professional self. I can't explain how good it feels to actually take the time to do this.


Can we make money doing what we love?

Yes and no. Sometimes we just need to pay our bills. Some people can't work for various reasons. Sometimes what we love to do just doesn't pay in money. The point of defining your life's work based on everything you are as a person, your volunteering commitments, your art, your services to others, is because jobs are sometimes just there to pay the bills. My various other fulfilling activities and commitments is what keeps me going when I have to do jobs that pay but don't fulfill me in other ways. What I have discovered, though, is I can bring elements of my life's work into any job. 

Life really is a miracle and I am grateful for each day. The fact that I can breathe, walk, talk, love, dance, sing, cook, write — is amazing. We are all magical miracles of life and the fact that we exist means we have purpose. We matter and we're here to inspire, uplift, and marvel at this amazing thing called life. 

So let's get to work. 


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