You Are More Than What You Do

The socially accepted question when we meet new people is usually “so, what do you do?” Have you ever felt trapped by that question? Is what you do an open door to share yourself with the world? Or is it a frame that rigidly defines how you relate to, or express yourself.

Maybe sharing about what you do is a welcome invitation when things are going well: you’ve landed the job, or gotten the award. But none of us are winning awards every day! So what about the days when we’re in between jobs, or not liking our lives very much? In those moments, what you do is an utterly inadequate and frustrating expression of you.

You are a multi-dimensional, paradoxical, human mystery. You’re are wonderful (even when you’re not!) You, like me, have an innate desire and drive to be seen and known, despite the impossibility of ever fully sharing your depth, and even when you feel like hiding. The actions, roles, and words that comprise ‘what you do’ are your soul’s attempt to translate herself into humanity.

Allow me to share an example from my normally busy day. Throughout the day today, I wore the hats of mom, wife, friend, sister, entrepreneur, community organizer, gardener, and coach. Ask me about my day and I might tell you about the book I read to my children, the breakthrough my client had, or what I ate. If you seemed interested, I might tell you how it felt to initiate a difficult conversation or the simple joy of quiet time in the sunshine. If we carved out time for a long walk in the woods, I would try my best to explain to you, and to myself, how the doings in my life are translating into insights about myself and my world. And however earnestly I attempted to share all these layers with you, I could never come close to articulating the heart of ME.

When the conversation stops at what you do, you risk doing your life, instead of being present for your life. To be clear, I’m not advocating for you to sit quietly with hands clasped to avoid doing. Want what you want and go for it! Set intentions, define goals, take action! But open up to the possibility that the “doing” in your days is important not because you achieved or fell short of your goals, but because your actions and reactions yield information for your heart and soul: the bigger YOU.

This is about allowing connection to yourself. Making space to witness your own unfolding journey. Honoring the paradoxical mystery that is you.