I just finished listening to Brené Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability on Audible. I learned a lot from that six hours of content, but there was one treasure that she kept until the very end that I know will stick with me: you are more than just the thing(s) you do for money.
This in itself isn’t what I found surprising. I have known for a long time that there is so much more to me than my career. Despite that knowledge, though, my answer to our culture’s favorite question (“so, what do you do?”) was always — “I’m a marketer!”
That answer is incredibly obvious and has always felt like the “right” one to me. Our culture is obsessed with career and achievement. From the moment we leave high school (or maybe even from the moment we start high school), many of us are taught to focus less on play and more about what we’ll do for work. Sure, play sports or be involved in clubs, but not just because you find those activities fun; do it because colleges will find it attractive on your application. It’s a race to the finish line for so many kids that it’s no wonder by the time many land their first “big kid job,” they forget that there’s more to their lives than just what they do for money.
Brené forced me to ask myself whether “marketer” should be my only answer to the “what do you do” question. Don’t get my wrong: I love my career. I’m blessed that I find purpose and meaning in my work. It is fulfilling and I am able to use skills that I have developed overtime to make an impact in my organization. I never dread a Monday and I wake up most mornings excited about the challenges that wait for me in the office.
Despite all that, though, I am not just a marketer. When I’m not at my day job, I do a different kind of work. I plan. I cultivate. I grow. I share. This work doesn’t generate any revenue for our family’s balance sheet (I see you, my first egg customers, and appreciate the $9 your purchases have brought in). While I would love to sell produce at a roadside stand one of these seasons, that’s not why I do this work.
I grow and share my gardening experiences because it brings me joy. I do it because it sets my soul on fire. I do it because Mother Nature is a constant stream of tiny miracles. I do it because it feels like playing. I do it because it rejuvenates my spirit. I do it because I want my kids to know where food comes from. I do it because my husband and I make a great team. I do it because I believe the best way to inspire others is to be the change you wish to see in the world. I do it because I can’t get enough.
Y’all, those are pretty good reasons to do work. Better reasons, in fact, than money.
So from now on, when I get that “what do you do” question, you can count on me to say “I’m a marketer and I’m a grower.”