I rocked my red pumps (the female equivalent of a power tie), my
pencil skirt, and my perfectly pressed white shirt. I greeted everyone
who came within a first down marker of me. I said the right things
during my meetings and introduced myself to the right people during my
Perhaps this getting back to work thing would be not as difficult as I imagined.
This perspective changed quickly, though, towards the end of my second day when I was hit with the question. Yep, the question.
“We were wondering,” the most vocal member of a group of women who
were getting ready to call it a day said to me, “What do you actually
There were many things that I was hoping to hear from this group of
women. “We are glad to have you on board.” “We are excited to have your
skills on our team.” “We cannot wait to work with you further.” These
all would have fit the bill.
“What do you actually do?” does not have quite the same ring to it.
The irony, of course, is that I thought re-joining the workforce would
answer this question, not perpetuate it.
Joining an organization or holding a title, I quickly learned, does
not mean that your purpose or your goals instantly become clear. A job
does not define a person. A person defines a job.
important not to lose sight of this key difference. If you do not know
what you actually do (or what you actually want to do), that is okay,
and you are certainly not alone. Keep on doing something. And, even
more importantly, keep on contemplating the question of what you want
to do until you come up with something good.
The question the women posed to me is a fair one – what do you actually do?
And, I answered as truthfully as possible. “To be honest,” I said, “I am still trying to figure that out.”