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Professional - Fully Human?

What does it mean to be professional? Google says,

professional (adj). - engaged in a specified activity as one's main paid occupation rather than as a pastime.

A pastime is something you do to pass time—for fun or free in the margins of your life. In it, you can be a whole person, fully human because it's (and your) value is not dependent on your ability to perform or produce. It doesn't have hard limits other than maybe your budget and even that can be negotiated.

But being professional is a smaller box. It requires you to prune and squish yourself into a box of expectations and needs of that particular market. In other words, to make money, you have to play to your audience. It isn't really about you, other than paying for your life.

Many of us get more than money out of our jobs—the satisfaction of helping others, the joy of community engagement, making the world a better place, etc. But when it comes down to the wire, you just have to do the job well to get paid. You don't have to like it. You don't have to feel good in it. You don't have to be affirmed. You just have to get the job done. And to do the job well, you may end up having to check part of yourself at the door. That's why some jobs are a better fit than others! The more the job box is shaped like you, the easier it is to fit into it. But don't kid yourself—that's not all of who you are. You will always be more fully human outside of your profession.

Unsplash photo cred: Vitamina Poleznova

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