My husband Dennis recently told me a story about an interview he saw in the late 1980’s with Howie Mandel. Way before the days of a shaved head, “Deal or No Deal” and AGT, Howie got his start to fame as a comedian, and then played a serious role as a doctor on the 80’s show St. Elsewhere. The interviewer asked Howie what it was like to change from comedian to serious actor. Howie shared that he didn’t see it as a big change, when he woke up, he was always “just Howie.” Sometimes Howie did comedy, sometimes Howie played a doctor, but he was always “Howie.” I like how this way of thinking frees us up from being our job title. We are not really meant to be a particular job title, we are always just ourselves doing certain tasks.
Since becoming an adult, I’ve been “Erin the college student,” “Erin the salesperson” and “Erin the Youth Director.” What I learned is that the trouble with identifying yourself as a particular job title is that you can lose that title. Who are you then? How do you answer the “what do you do?” cocktail party question?
When I was little, there were a lot of things I wanted to be when I grew up – a mom, teacher, author, artist, veterinarian. As a high school student, I even said I wanted to be a business woman and maybe volunteer with the youth group (I have a senior memory book to prove this, by the way!) What I didn’t realize then was that the process of growing up takes a lifetime, providing opportunity to be more than one thing in a lifetime. I am still growing up.
I’ve punted on veterinarian, but, in a beautiful turn of events, I have managed to become all of those things I dreamed of becoming. I am even getting to dabble in the “impractical” roles…the ones where even the people you love most respond with “good luck with that” when you say you want to be that role. Depending on the day or hour, I am taking in the role of mom, teacher, author, speaker, coach, artist, business professional, entrepreneur and youth minister. Yesterday, I wore my painting clothes pictured above, today I was primarily a writer. Throughout all of this adventure, I am “just Erin” doing different things. I am having an amazing time living beyond a specific job title, even if it makes explaining what I do extraordinarily complicated.
What do I do? I’ll get back to you when I grow up.
What are you called to be?
What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?