A Milestone in Your Shoes

It can feel like a kick to the gut when you tell someone what you are doing for a job, something you have worked so hard for, something you struggled to make progress in, and have them say something along the lines, of yeah I have thought of trying to do that when I have the time.  Or, I want to do that on the side (you know, after the real job).  These remarks generally are not meant to be derogatory, but they can feel dismissive.

I think it is important to stop and consider the motivation behind the comments.  They, in some way, are admiring what you are doing.  They may not understand the work behind the job title; I would wager they have no idea of the work behind the job title or the work it took to get there.  But, it is admiration: what you are doing is something they would like to be able to do, they just have not made it a priority.

For me, I have made my career a priority and I work for it every day.  But, when I started out on this path I had no idea what it would look like.  I didn’t know what the end game would be or how I would get there.  I simply took one step at a time and pushed forward until I got to where I am now, and now, I continue to push forward, I still don’t know what the next corner is going to reveal or what the end game is, but every day I am working to make progress.  So, if I didn’t know what it would look like, or what it would entail, how could I expect someone else to, someone who isn’t involved in the industry?

It does not matter what the job is.  If you haven’t done it, you don’t know the work that goes into it.  People have a habit of making assumptions and can toss careless remarks out—but remember before you get upset with them—what do they do? What work do they put in? Have you been in their shoes? We don’t know what is happening in another’s life, work or otherwise, so instead of getting your back up, take it like it is (in the example I gave at least) meant: a compliment, admiration.

If someone wants to think that all I do is read all day, that is okay.  I know what I do, I know the work I put in, I know what it took to get here.  If anyone is genuinely interested in trying to pursue the same thing I have, I am happy to have a conversation with them and try to help them get a start.  To tell them what went into it, but if they just want to think of it as a side job, or something to do in your spare time, they probably have no real interest in pursuing it, not in reality. It is a daydream for them, nothing more.

So, regardless of what you are doing, be proud of the work it took to get there.  If someone remarks that they’d like to do it in their spare time when they have time, or after their real job.  Just nod and smile and wish them well.  It isn’t worth your time to get bogged down by it or feel dismissed by it.