This morning, after dropping my son off at day care, I decided to pick up my groceries before getting to work. There is an old man at the grocery store, who is particularly fond of my kids and always stops to say hello to me.
“Hello” said the man looking at me in a concerned way.
“Hello” I said, growing uncomfortably conscious of the fact that I did not have time to comb my hair or wash my face this morning.
“Are you ok?”
“Oh yes, I’m just a bit tired” – I felt I needed to explain my strange appearance and shifty attitude.
Then it happened:
The man snorted a laugh and said “You? Tired!?” In a way that would imply that I had no reason to be tired (maybe he thinks I drop the kids off at school and then have tea parties all day). I balked at this.
I could have just ignored the comment and carried on with my day, but I felt that I needed to defend myself.
“I work, you know!” I blurted out.
He looked surprised “Really? What do you do?”
What do I do?
In the past when people asked me this question my voice would lower a bit, and I’d mumble “well, I’m sort of an artist and a teacher, I’m not really teaching much right now……mumble, mumble, mumble.” My eyes would lower a bit, and I would want to curl up into a ball.
My husband, who is my main champion and life-coach said to me “Be bold. Look them in the eye and say “I run my own business”. He said “be proud of what you do, you do amazing things”.
So I looked him in the eye and boldly stated ” I run my own business!”
“Where do you run it from?”
Another derisive snort escaped from the man’s lips. “What do you do?”
“I’m an artist, I make things and sell them at fairs. I also teach classes. I hope to start selling in boutiques and………” I trailed off. He wasn’t listening anymore.
This happens every now and then. I guess it happens to most people who work in the Arts, but it is happening less and less. Our jobs may not seem like hard work, or sound important to some people, but they just don’t know any better. That’s why I got into teaching.
I guess it is our job to educate them about that.
So comrades, stay strong and confident and become an ambassador for what you do.
I have invited the old man for tea, so that he can see what I do for a living. Let the educating begin!