I’m not sure at what age I began to have this thought, but I clearly recall thinking that whatever career I landed on, I wanted to be able to say “I am a _________” rather than having to say “I work at _________.” I didn’t even really have a clue what I would even fill in that blank with, but I was fixed on the idea that when someone asked the obligatory polite, just-met-you type of questions like “So, what do you do?” I knew I wanted to be able to respond by saying “I’m a teacher/a photographer/ a chef/ a writer/ an artist/ a secretary” or whatever the situation was. I just hated when someone asked that and I heard someone else reply by saying “I work at…a bank/ Macy’s/ Giant Eagle/ the BMV” etc…. Not that I had or do have anything against any of those places (except maybe the BMV…I mean, seriously!) or any of the people who actually do work there or the thousands of places like those. I just felt like if I grew up to “just” work at a fill-in-the-blank place, then I would never have really found my place in the world. I would never have found what I was supposed to be. I wanted to be something. I wanted my life to be meaningful. I wanted it to be interesting. Let’s be real…I wanted to be interesting.
This week I read this article by an author who is always inspiring to me. He mentioned that someone had shared this quote with him:
If you are interesting, people will like you, If you are interested, people will love you.
Did you catch that? Now I’m a little slow, so I had to read it a few times and really think about what it meant. The rest of the article definitely helps get the idea, so give it a read if you have a second.
Now, I have a career that allows me to say I am a teacher. I’ve been one now for over 5 years and I love it. It really is a meaningful career, I have fun at it, and it challenges me at every turn. I have lots of stories that I never would have had if that wasn’t my career. It sure is interesting, alright! When I was growing up, I couldn’t wait to be something, And now I am that something that I always dreamed of being. It does feel nice, knowing that I have a career that has the potential to change the lives of the little ones I’m around every day. I am proud of what I do, even when I do it imperfectly (which is pretty much every day!) In addition to all that, I have a wonderful marriage, way more amazing friends than I can count on all 10 fingers (which kind of surprises me to tell the truth, because I think I’m pretty obnoxious!) and have varied hobbies and pursuits that never leave me with a lack of conversation topics. And to top it all off, I now have a relationship with the God of the universe that blows my mind on a daily basis. Pretty interesting life, I’d say. I
But I’m kinda starting to be over being interesting. I think I would much rather like to be interested.
The truth is, that wonderful career and wonderful husband and great friends and diverse list of pursuits sometimes leave me with little room to be too interested in others. I find myself most often doing a balancing act with the things I have allowed to be put on my plate rather than keeping just the most essential things in order, and leaving lots of free time to invest in other people and really show them that I’m interested in their lives. I find myself forgetting people’s names too often and having rushed conversations rather than just being with them. Worst of all, I find myself talking about myself more than almost anything else…and that is a sure sign of feeling interesting, and definitely not showing that I’m interested. I hate admitting that, but it’s there nonetheless.
So I’m rethinking being interesting. My interesting career has almost pushed being interested into a corner. Yes, it’s important. Yes, I’m good at it. But is it worth not having time to be interested and invested in others??