Explaining Myself

Day 8, 500 words, 31 days.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped wanting to tell people what I do for a living.

It always seems in flux anyway; I find myself explaining how I’m transitioning between projects more often than actually elaborating on what I’m currently doing. It’s generally just a lot of explaining.

My wife and I attended a function for her fellow teachers to usher in the school year as it begins again after the Holidays. We enjoyed a buffet dinner at a Japanese establishment we’d otherwise probably have never gone to – it’s a bit further than we normally like to adventure, and a bit pricier than we normally spend. In other words, it was a rare treat.

For me, however, I tend to dread these big gatherings, not because these teachers aren’t friendly or likable. If anything, they are precisely those things and it’s difficult keeping on an uninviting scowl when everyone is smiling at me for reasons I still haven’t sorted.

I just dislike the part of these interactions that inevitably begins with exchanging pleasantries having to do with, what I do.

I was probably one of the few people in the room that didn’t work for Dalat – my wife’s school – so having to explain what I actually do always gets me sounding like a college freshman – eager and unsure.

Normally the spiel goes like this: “I do social media management for an NGO. Like, Facebook and stuff. I freelance sort of. I also write. Yes…”

I almost always make sure to add that last part, about the writing – mostly because it sounds a lot more digestible than “social media management”. Truth be told, I’m still figuring out the best way to describe it. Sometimes I’ll tell people it has something to do with online marketing. Or that I get to be on Facebook for a living.

The “freelancing” part throws people off, I think. It’s not really the best way to describe what I do. It just goes nicely with being a “writer” but I have the least bit of a clue how to even begin that sort of a career. Other than, actually writing – daily – of course.

More often than not people just assume I have some tech skills that allows me to work remotely. This isn’t entirely accurate. I suppose blogging counts, but I try not to introduce that concept when having a conversation with someone as old as my parents.

In fairness to my parents, I think by now they know what blogging is, and bless their hearts, they keep telling me to keep doing it, whatever I’m doing.

The conversation about what I do hardly ever gets anywhere. I may talk about being able to travel here and there and that usually piques someone’s interest. It’s almost always more interesting where I say I’m about to go versus what I say I’m about to do. That’s ok.

I started this blog over a year ago, hoping to figure out what vocation really means for myself – and maybe along the way, I’d feel a certain sense of calling, the more I worked it out in my head.

These days, it’s my heart that’s wrestling with all that’s happening in my life. It’s been an interesting combination of responsibilities I’ve taken up since moving here – getting involved with folks that started up a niche magazine, volunteering as a “representative” of sorts for a human rights organization I’m still getting to know, figuring out how to tell stories through social media, and finally, writing, every single day, for it’s own sake.

I can hardly make sense of why I’m doing all that I do, let alone explain it to someone else. It’s always a long-winded sort of perambulation and so I leave out a lot of the little parts. Only here do I get to revel in the details.

This much I do know – being in Penang feels about as right as wearing a sock on my foot, bottom-side up. I’m where I need to be, but I have to get my toes and heel lined up correctly at the seams, first. Except I have no idea how I’m long it’ll take to get my socks on straight – they’re just,  at the very least, on.

Regardless of what I’m doing here, or why, for that matter, I’m getting more and more connected to this place. How deep my roots go, I don’t know, but they’re going. Like a plant filled with dry soil, I needed some rain today, and to my delight, it did. It was a sudden pour that somehow came down quietly, as though it wanted to keep it’s own falling a secret.

If nothing else, I feel more rooted with each passing day, planted more deeply to this place, this journey, than the day before. I don’t know in what way I’ll change while I’m here, or what I’ll end up actually pursuing in the long run. I just feel, something, and it’s too hard to explain. All I know is that it’s starting to grow.


5 thoughts on “Explaining Myself

  1. yup… anything related to technology, IT or ANYTHING that has to stay in the cyberworld is so hard to put into words 🙂

    • Speaking of turning off the noise – this cable TV business is killing me. Though, I get to watch NBA in the mornings. It’s good and bad.

      Thanks for the word. Working on embracing the moment.

  2. I was at the Moraga Starbucks and there was a student doing a college interview. It struck me how the tendency, especially at that age/time, is to imbue everything with purpose and to try to weave it all into a grand narrative. The reality is, as your entry appreciates, life is complicated and contradictory and full of loose ends, which don’t always lead to good stories but they do lead to a richer life.

    • Well said, Ryan. It’s hard convincing someone in their late teens, early twenties that it isn’t going to make much more sense a decade later. It might, but it also might not. And that’s ok. The being ok with it part is tough for many.

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