Wow, its been a while, hasn’t it? Turns out my new job is not only fabulous but takes up a WHOLE lot of my time. I worked 40 hours each the last two weeks. That’s just crazy but I’m loving it. Which brings me to the topic of this post.
I was joking with a friend of mine the other day that suddenly I seem to be ‘interesting’ again in many people’s eyes. Its funny, yet at the same time quite sad to come upon this realization.
See, I have always had the kind of jobs that people find rather interesting. Even when I was working in a bookstore, back in the days after I finished university, it was great conversation fodder when out at the bar, meeting new people. Apparently bookstores are fascinating. Working in one implies that you are an intellectual, that you love to read, and that if somebody gets to know you well enough, you may be generous enough to pass on your staff discount.
Then I started working in book publishing. Well, apparently that was super-duper cool. Everybody wanted to know which authors I had worked with and once you start being able to pass around names like Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood, your cool and interesting status is well and truly secured. I admit that at moments I enjoyed the look on people’s faces when they found out what I did. They wanted to know more, to hear stories, to find out if it was as glamorous it seems (it’s not, by the way), and the conversation would flow.
Then I became a stay-at-home mum, and when I would meet new people and they would ask me what I did, I would tell them “I’m home with my kids right now.” They would nod and smile, and move on to another topic. Now, I didn’t expect people to quiz me about the daily happenings of my life changing diapers and making lunches. Kids are not everybody’s cup of tea and I certainly understand that once you’re out of the young kid phase, you don’t want to hear about teething and tantrums. Still, there was a certain unease when people would hear that, and almost a dismissal, like we may not have anything in common or anything to talk about. I admit that more than a couple of times I was guilty of the big BUT. “I’m home with my kids BUT I used to be a book publicist,” I would say and their eyes would go from glazed over to interested again.
I hope that most of you know me well enough by now to know that I’m not saying this because I’m some kind of attention seeking weirdo. I’m actually quite an introvert and deep down I find it really difficult to meet new people. Although I seem outgoing and social, that is a persona I have developed over years of working with people and it can be exhausting to keep it up for very long. So, when the conversation becomes stilted, I know that I have certain go-to stories that will keep the ball rolling and put an end to any awkwardness. It’s a tool, really.
Now, I am a Social Media and Communications Associate for a women’s e-magazine, and apparently I am once again interesting. It is a job that never even existed 10 years ago, and people my age seem to find it fascinating that companies hire somebody to post tweets and status updates. Of course, it’s much more than that, but the fascination is still there and just last month , I had two acquaintances from my kids’ school ask to get together with me and pick my brain. Both are self-employed and need to unravel the social media mystery sooner rather than later, so I get why they want to talk to me. I just find it fascinating that I amsomebody that people want to speak to again.
And here’s the thing: I was interesting when I was “just” a stay-at-home mom. I read books and followed politics, and was funny and smart and well-spoken and educated. There was so much more to me than wiping noses and attending play groups. My closest friends are the ones who always knew that, and I have to say that the ones who didn’t will never be people who I could be friendly with. And I feel a bit guilty now that even I would cop-out and bring up my old “interesting” job when I was a full-time mum. I know now that I was telling people that what I was doing with my life wasn’t enough, but you know what? To hell with that. It was enough. Maybe next time I’m faced with telling a stranger what I do for a living I’ll say “I’m a Social Media guru now, but I was home with my kids for 7 years and it was a blast,” and see what they say.