It’s not the job; it’s who you get to be.
This line really stuck out to me years ago when I was reading Martha Beck’s book, Finding Your Own North Star. I could see the truth in it and how it applied to people around me, but it wasn’t until this summer that I was able to really experience it for myself.
I saw it with Maggie, a general practitioner, who chose her field because it was the trend of the time. It was a practical, intelligent decision to make while in medical school, but it wasn’t HER. Every interesting case that came through her door, she had to refer out. She was a natural born specialist. She loved to know everything there was to know about one subject. She had a passion for expertise. And yet, she found herself in a career for a generalist, someone who likes to know a little bit about everything. There was nothing wrong with the job; it just wasn’t a match for her personality. She went back to school and is now highly specialized; enjoying complex cases she can really sink her teeth into.
I saw it with Evan, an easygoing, effective employee who makes friends wherever he goes. Managers and co-workers appreciate the peaceful work environment he creates. Evan, on the other hand, is not feeling so peaceful. He bites his tongue, stifles his true self, and tries to make peace for everyone but himself. What Evan needs most is to express his creativity. He needs autonomy and trust from his supervisors, but he’s too much of a pleaser to ask for it. He has an amazing vision for how to optimize his role in the company, increase productivity and create an even better work environment. He isn’t enjoying his job because he hasn’t figured out how to bring his true self, innovative and in charge, into his current role.
In my life I get to wear many hats: Life Coach, Mommy, Teacher, etc. but this summer I spent a lot of time wearing my “Landlord” hat. We have a rental property that became vacant and I spent a lot of time cleaning, repairing, advertising, interviewing, filling out paperwork, doing background checks, etc. None of these activities I particularly enjoy, but through this process I thought a lot about, “It’s not the job, it’s who you get to be” and I looked for opportunities to be myself. It was not always smooth. I had tenants ruin property, lie to me, break agreements, and refuse to pay money they owed me. I had to remind myself that I can still do the right thing, even when others’ aren’t. I had to remind myself that I can still trust people, just not all people. If I had to spend every day filling out paperwork, showing houses, and making repairs, it wouldn’t nourish my soul. But if I could fill out paperwork, show houses, and make repairs while believing that I am helping people, then I get to be me. I tell myself that I am helping people by being a good landlord and providing a nice, safe, clean home during a time when many people are looking to rent. My favorite part of the job is when I get to connect with people who are going through difficult times. During an open house, I got to listen to people grieve over their beautiful, big home they lost is the mortgage crisis. I listened to their anger and resentment over their poor credit score. I witnessed sadness about an upcoming divorce and hopefulness with starting a new life. I know that I was not born to be a landlord. I was born to connect with people in important areas of their life and do what I can to help them feel better. As long as I can find ways to do this, I can be happy ANYWHERE.
It’s easy to drown in a job that doesn’t nourish your soul. What’s hard (but SO worthwhile) is finding ways to still be you, while living amongst crazy people in a crazy land. Start with where you are. How can you bring more of YOU into your job and your life? If you aren’t sure what’s right for you, try reading Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck or give life coaching a try. If your job is a match that was never meant to be and you feel clear about what your heart really longs for, perhaps now is the time to make that change. It’s not the job, it’s who you get to be.
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