I just spent my Sunday doing some wardrobe updating (shopping) followed by a swim. I was in a “Mather’s For Shoes” (shoeshop, duh!) shopping for some sandals and a lovely female shop attendant was helping me to pick an appropriate pair (I always take the advice of girls when it comes to fashion, they know so much more than me in this area).
We chatted a bit while I was trying on sandals and it turns out she just graduated a Business degree with a major in PR/Advertising. She was a little forlorn regarding her future job prospects, lamenting on the difficulty of finding work in her newly qualified-for industry, especially without experience. Her shoe selling job was quite casual and clearly she was suffering in the “just out of university and I don’t know what to do” phase of life (I feel the need to mention this article right now – Personal CongruencyÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ At 21? How To Be Confident At Any Age ).
My mind briefly fluttered back to my days studying at university and I felt a momentary kinship with this girl as I remembered worrying about my ability to get work in my chosen study area after graduating. It was a short lived worry however as I quickly decided that having a “career” was not for me, unfortunately replaced with a new worry altogether – how exactly could I earn money without a “career”. Of course fast forward to today and it’s not a worry at all, but confidence is a lot easier in hindsight and with experience tucked into your belt.
I mentioned to my shoe-sales-lady that I also did a business degree and of course she asked me what I ended up doing (what job I got). Nowadays I don’t have an exact answer for this question, which I think is way cool, I like being mysterious.
Perhaps the most common question in the western world when two people meet each other is “what do you do for a living?”, and yes I partake in this ritual with genuine interest, however most occasions I’m given responses like – accountant, retail sales, admin officer, lawyer, IT, music, architecture, etc. All nice square boxes that clearly label what a person does in life. When it comes time for me to explain my calling in the working world the story isn’t so clear cut.
In the past I’ve run with “I run my own business” or “I have my own Internet business” or similar. Then after a few probing questions I’ve dully explained I run a student editing business, which hardly makes me the life of the party since I’m quickly labelled as an “editor”. I’m so far from being an editor that I always feel the need to explain that I run the business and do not do the editing.
Now though I don’t feel right saying that BetterEdit.com is my job either since I don’t devote the majority of my working time to it. It’s the whole Internet “thing” that I feel is my job (bordering on my life at times!).
In many ways I feel like a writer and the romantic in me wants to say that I am a writer. While I do draw some income indirectly as a result of my writing and I use my creative output as a pillar of my online projects, I don’t feel quite right stating I’m a writer, at least not yet. When I’m locked up in some apartment by the beach writing my first novel or even an eBook I might consider myself a true writer and state so with bravado when questioned about my life, but it’s not my label now, it doesn’t fit, at least not yet.
I’m really an online marketer, but that is a very blurry title – What is an online marketer? Internet business entrepreneur, that’s a good one, but doesn’t feel quite right either. I’ve made or make money from affiliate products, advertising, selling websites, referrals, hosting, design, eBay and other ways, but none of those activities fit nicely into a box that I feel comfortable stating as my job.
I’d like to say I’m a student of life – as corny as that sounds – it feels really good right now. I have so much to learn and what I really want to do is indulge in learning in areas that my motivation takes me. That doesn’t just include the Internet and business topics, although they are areas I’m always furthering my education. There are other areas I work on and study such as, psychology, spirituality, existential thought, sport, human interaction and whatever comes my way.
I’ve decided that the best answer to the what do you do? question is to say that I make money through the Internet, quickly clarify that no, it’s not through pornography, leave it at that and see what happens. Sometimes it’s easiest to follow up with “it’s difficult to explain”, especially to those that are not heavy web users, whose eyes gloss over when I mention words like “blog” and “AdWords”. If they are web savvy then perhaps I’ve found an interesting person, someone that shares my affinity for the online world that I’d like to get to know or even better, another solopreneur that may share my lifestyle or have aspirations in that direction. People are always interested when I tell them that I make a full time income with only a couple of mandatory hours of work per day and that statement can be enough to garner interest in a topic they had previously limited to activities like “email” or “browsing” or “research for assignment”. There’s an amazing world working online, and I’m happy to introduce people to it if they show genuine interest.
To the girl that helped me with the sandals today – I haven’t bought any yet so I might be back. She showed enough interest in what I did that I gave her the URL for this blog when I left so you never know, she might be reading this. To everyone else, I’m curious, if you work online how do you describe your daily life to new people you meet that ask that all important question?
Student of Life
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