Releasing Labels: Be What You Love, Not What You Do

Happy and free

“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” ~Brené Brown

I thought I was supposed to have a shiny job, the kind that makes people envious at cocktail parties.

We had moved with my husband’s job again. I think it was move number six out of nine and we were over at a friend’s house. There were people I didn’t know there, and I could feel myself avoiding them in case they asked “the question.”

The question was “So,” (pause to look at drink), “what do you do?” My brain used to do flips when people asked this. I thought it translated into something like “Is speaking to you of any value, or are you nothing very important?”

I spent the party around the edges of the room, feeling shy and apologetic that I didn’t have a job, a title, a label.

I was paying a penance for my new status, which seemed to be “wife of my husband” rather than a person in my own right. I was worried that they would judge me for my lack of label and think the highlights of my day were a spot of light dusting and some mindless daytime T.V.

“I am a teacher in a prep school” was a totally respectable, “yes, I have a pay packet and meetings on my online calendar” answer. Then the other person would usually exchange their respectable answer.

I cried in the car on my way home from the party. The pressure of having no label made me feel that all the others were bottles of fine wine (like champagne) and I was a bargain basement vino with a lot of sediment.

I could see that we wouldn’t really learn very much about each other. So I am now wondering what questions I could ask to, you know, actually get to know someone.

Here goes:

What is most fun in the world for you?

What song sings your tune?

Oh no, they’re already sounding like chat-up lines, aren’t they? Do we only let people really know who we are in casual flirtatious situations? Is there no place for this in the everyday?

I need to try again to suggest a way around this so you don’t get to the end of this post thinking, “Oh no, Tiny Buddha is not about cheesy chat-up lines; it’s about eternal truth. What’s up with this writer?”

Right, new way of getting to know people, part two, or getting to know people 2.0. Okay. So we’re at a party and I have never met you, and that’s a shame, because you read Tiny Buddha and we could talk about all sorts of Tiny Buddha stuff.

I’m brave. I am not hiding in the corner. I am ready to meet you (best unfreaky smile). Hi, I’m Deborah. I don’t think we have met before. (Oh no, the smile was freaky after all!)

Then we start a revolution of introduction. The new rule is: (please pass this on so everyone gets to know the rule) you say a list of things you love and that you are crazy excited about, and you let that beautiful, joyous, unapologetic list circle around your essence.

Yes, you are right, it still won’t fully express your utter fabulousness, but it is a better start than “I am a prep school teacher/lion tamer/accountant.”

So do your bit, share the revolution of introduction. Then you get to be what you love rather than what your HR manager/business title says you are—and you get to meet people who are a whole lot more interesting.

Happy and free image via Shutterstock

About Deborah Chalk

Deborah Chalk loves coaching writers, women who support their families and partner's careers and multi-passionate women. She is a Martha Beck Certified Life Coach. She lives in Hamburg, Germany with her lovely family where she reads too many self-help books, does ballet and listens to her flat-coated retriever singing when she play piano. You can find her at www.deborahchalk.com.

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