I hate explaining what I do for work

by Margaret Ryland

I was at a party the other day.

The festivity was high, wine and conversation flowing freely.

Most there were friends, but I met several people, and was reminded how hard it is to explain to a new acquaintance what exactly I do for work.

Why is this?

2 reasons came to mind:

  1. Our society has a narrow idea of work, so anything that’s slightly outside the box is sometimes met with incredulity or the assumption that your office is your bed, and your work clothes pajamas → neither of which are true for me.
  2. Branding as it exists today is a relatively new and changing field, so it’s hard to explain in a way that’s not jargon-y.

Regarding #1 → I want to improve my confidence in being fine with being different.

Being okay with being self-employed, never having had a “normal job.” There are days though when I wish that people understood it easily, so I didn’t have to explain myself and my work.

And for #2 → It might take some humility for me to just accept that to most people I’m “just” a graphic designer.

Why do I resist this? I think it’s because to me that’s someone in a backroom 90’s-style office designing flyers that go on a community bulletin board.

And what’s the problem with that?

Nothing, I guess, but to me it seems that it lacks value, and whatever I do, I want my work to have meaning, to make a difference.

Does this make me full of hubris? Or is this just a natural, human desire?

I think the latter, but at the end of the party, I’m still introduced as “a graphic designer,” and a little part of my soul wilts.