I was recently talking to a group of people I had never met before (hello, Jury Duty) and the topic of career came up. Someone asked asked someone else what they did/who they were and inevitably they said something like, “Oh I’m a nurse” or “I am a customer service representative”. I find the question difficult to answer myself, because I don’t define myself by my career. I have had a variety of careers over the years, and I am glad for each one because it has taught me so much. I have, over the course of 30+ years, been: a parks and recreation clerk, a hospice intake representative (one of the saddest jobs I’ve ever had), a court clerk, an office manager for executive offices, a receptionist, a secretary, a tech support rep, a corporate travel agent, a collector, a trainer, a registrar, a claims adjuster, a police dispatcher, a sales rep, and an appointment specialist. I’ve also cleaned greenware, done craft shows, and assisted in my mom’s ceramics business as a teen.
I have enjoyed and hated all of these jobs at some point. I have excelled at some of them, and a few (sales… I suck at sales) I have been less than stellar at. I have met tons of people in my various endeavors and some have become longtime friends. I do not regret my job choices and feel that I’ve learned so much about life from them. However, I know that many people think I’m impulsive or worse because I’ve switched jobs (and career fields) more often than most people. I, on the other hand, feel that my haphazard career has taught me so many things I wouldn’t have known if I had worked in one profession my entire life. I often wish I had more years left in my career because there are so many things I still want to learn and see and do. There are so many things left to try. So many new people to meet. So many careers to try on.
I find it sad that we define ourselves by the career/job that we have and not by the people we are. I know that I’m supposed to answer “I’m an appointment specialist” when someone asks me what I do, but what I really want to answer is: “I’m Barbara and I can be anything I want to be. I’m friendly. I can be funny or quirky. I’m sometimes a bit of an introvert. I love to read and am a fan of horror movies. I am creative and would like to spend more of my time doing art, but never find the time to do it. I have a love/hate relationship with my body. I strive to be a good friend, but I fail at it often. I am a work in progress.” I will never be satisfied with one career. It’s just not who I am. I will likely change careers again before I retire, though I hope maybe I can stay with the same company. I, unlike many, seem to relish change. I enjoy seeing how businesses work and getting to be a part of something, even if I don’t always stay long. Someday, I may be less of a career nomad, but I will never regret my past. I am who I am because of those jobs, and I wouldn’t change that. Until then, if you ask me what I do be prepared for a very different sort of answer.