I’m reading the fab book by Austin Kleon “Show Your Work”. It’s the follow-up to “Steal Like an Artist”.
Among the many, many gold nuggets, Austin takes on creatives no. 1 feared question:
What do you do?
I have hated this question and I’ve been embarrassed by this question nearly all my life. And I wrote about it before here.
Like many multi-passionate and creative people, I have had many jobs, in different sectors. I have also attempted life as self-employed.
Kleo says in his book if you’re a Lawer, or a Dentist, a Plumber, you’re all set. If, on the other hand, you don’t have an education, being asked (and judged by) what you do for a living, brings up insecurities and feelings of not being good enough.
This is also true if you are trying to make a living from creative work. It is a dilemma we multi-passionates know well.
Why is “What do you do?” creatives no 1 feared question?
Nearly all our self-worth is tied up in our job.
If you don’t have a job, we look down on you. And if you are creative, unless you make a good living from your creations, you are also below par.
This is how our society is, it’s how our education systems are geared and it’s a difficult belief to change.
Another reason why creativity takes so much courage.
But luckily, the world is full of courageous people. Like you and me.
How to answer “What Do You Do?”
In “Show your work” Kleo says that he used to say “by day I’m a web designer, and by night I write poetry”.
Now he says he is a “writer who draws”.
This is a great answer, and the reason I’m sharing it in this blog post.
I’m going to steal that answer and say
by day I’m a Teaching Assistant, and by evening I do creative work
I don’t actually often put myself in situations where I meet people who will ask me what I do for a living. I’m an introvert, so meeting new people is not my cup of tea.
But being able to articulate what I spend most of my waking hours doing, gives me a sense of self-worth.
My next challenge is to articulate what my “creative work” is.
I blog, I write, I make graphics, I create an online course, I paint, promote on Pinterest and Instagram, I write emails, I take courses on everything from how to get the best out of MailChimp, to how to start and run an online business, to art therapy and everything in between.
And much more. My creative work is a different world in itself, so sometimes it’s easier to just say I blog about creativity.
Which is also the truth.
I hope you will be inspired to say what you do for a living with self-respect, pride, and love. Especially if what you do is unconventional.
That way you’ll help change creatives no 1 feard question to another. I wonder what that could be?