Friday 1 February 2019

When I'm at parties - which is not that often because my spirit animal is a Grandma - the first thing anyone ever asks me is 'how’s work?'

Whenever I'm meeting new people in a group and someone asks, 'So what do you all do?' the people that I do know, turn to me and say 'you go first...'

Once on a super busy train, we got chatting to a group of people around the same age as us. We were all a bit drunk, and to pass the time and so that we could all ignore the fact that we sort of needed the loo, we played a game of guessing each other’s jobs. One girl was a product designer for Warburtons (but she hadn’t come up with the giant crumpets) and still my job was the one we focussed on.

And I get it. For a start, the term ‘Creative Producer’ sounds cool – even though I probably spend just as much time looking at spreadsheets as everyone else. And saying something more general like ‘I work in theatre’ makes it sound even more glamorous.

Because most people instantly think West End, backstage passes, and the possibility that I’ve met someone famous.

That couldn’t be further away from what I do.

But even the people who know what I do. Who know it’s not glamorous, who know what my job title means, it’s still the first thing they ask about.

And part of me loves that because I love what I do. And the fact that I love what I do (and profess that love a lot) is probably why its peoples go to question.

Because we all have that aspect of our life that people instantly associate us with. For Rick it’s travel. For others, it might be their family or the sport they play.

They are our identifiers. And they can be a blessing and a curse.

Especially if your identifier is something you love but is also how you pay the bills.

It means that every party conversation runs the risk of reminding you of your to-do list. Or even worse, it means you could leave every party worrying that you bored people to death with your monologue on how there as many types of theatre as there are tv shows, so actually theatre is for everyone (I should just get a t-shirt printed and be done with it).

This is in no way a criticism of the people that ask me these things. I love that people take an interest in what I do/humour me when their casual ‘how’s work?’ question led to a debate (in which I argued both sides) on how funding works in the arts.

This is more a question to myself – do I want my career to be my identity?

In the past the answer has always been yes.

Half the issue is that theatre is pretty much the only hobby I had as a child.

There was a brief period where I went to gymnastics – but I grew out of that when it stopped being cute that I fell off the monkey bars all the time (took about 6 years to realise, this wouldn’t be my forte in life).

The other thing is that when I thought about what my future would look like, most daydreams were built around me having some sort of cool or unusual job.

When I was about 15, I thought I’d be a German Speaking Historian who erm, travelled the world, knowing stuff and speaking German… who’d have thought I could imagine a job less likely to be a thing than what I currently do.

I was always encouraged to think about having a career, and for this, I will be forever grateful, and I always knew I wanted to enjoy whatever it was that I spent every day doing.

I’ve spoken before about how I’ve pretty much always known what it is that I wanted to do when I grew up – but I wasn’t always fully conscious to this fact, but you can see how these combining factors led me here.

So I always wanted my career to be a big part of my life. And it is.

But just because you love your job doesn’t mean it isn’t a job.

Like a lot of people, I have bad or boring days at work. I have a lot of admin. There are parts I actively don’t like. And when it’s not actually going very well it’s hard to put on a smile, sip your gin and chat about it like you normally world.

Sometimes I want to leave work at work but that’s not easy to do when you – and other people – feel that work is such a huge part of who you are.

To be honest, if people didn’t ask me about work… I’m not sure what they would ask me about.

That’s a sorry state of affairs isn’t it?

It’s not that my identity is made up of only my career and I have no other interests or passions. It’s just that my career, for so long, has been the focus. And in having so much attention has grown to overshadow the other parts of who I am.

It’s less about actively trying to avoid talking about my career and more about actively, and visibly nourishing the other parts of who I am. Whether that’s writing, photography, travel, or even for a brief period before Christmas I was into cross stitching (or at least I was when it went how I planned).

Maybe it’s about letting people into other parts of my life that I normally tuck away a bit more.

Or maybe, I’ve just over thought this whole thing – because let’s face it that’s my true identity.

But enough about me, how are you? How’s work? x

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