At a recent get-together, I had the following conversation with another woman that I had just met:
She: So what do you do for a living?
Me: I’m an attorney.
She: What kind of law do you practice?
Me: I’m a contract attorney but I do mostly civil litigation.
She: Oh. Yeah, I know a lot of people who do that kind of stuff.
Me: Yes, well, law is how I pay the bills. I’m not really super passionate about practicing.
She: Oh my god! That’s so SAD!
She: Because all of the time you spent getting your degree…and the money. That’s awful!
Me: Not really. Law lets me pay the bills why I focus on my true passion, which is creating art.
Silence accompanied by blank stare.
Yeah, uh-huh. Sadness isn’t that I’m not passionate about practicing law or working in a large firm. What would be sad would be if I deluded myself into thinking I really liked doing it and wasting the next 20-25 years of my life slaving away at something that left me feeling spiritually depleted. Instead, I got real with myself and decided to put my passion first for a change, rather than doing what other people thought I should prefer or what was more prestigious. The way I look at it, I’m an artist that happens to practice law; not the other way around.
So, the next time someone asks me what I do for a living, I know exactly what I’ll start with first. Artist.