Are you a feaster? A re-frame on the age old question, What do you do?

The many masks (or hats) of the Mexican superhero, lucha libre masks in the Mission, SF

We wear many hats

I remember the moment so clearly. I described the many hats I wear (the things I do creatively and professionally) to my brand new coach and the all too familiar sheepishness was setting in.

Every time someone asks me what I do, I flush a bit. “It’s hard to explain,” I sort of stutter. “I kind of do a lot of things. I am an artist and a life coach. I teach online classes in creativity and personal growth. Oh, and I’m a blogger. And a photographer, but not really professionally. Oh, and I kind of write…” blah blah blah. I trail off and get totally gripped by my inner critics. They shout in my head: You’ve got to pick something one day! You’ve got to be an expert at SOMETHING. Jack of all trades, master of none…!

At these moments I feel like an imposter everything.

And then this new coach surprised me. She was delighted and exclaimed, “Oh! You’re a feaster!”And this suddenly felt like a good thing, an acknowledgment. It was a powerful re-frame of the seeming mish-mosh that is my creative life.

She went on. “A feaster. You know, someone who can’t just pick one thing. That would be boring for them. They want to feast at the buffet of life, not just put one thing on their plate!”

Thank god for great coaches. This conversation changed my life.

Are you a feaster?

Do you have a similar gremlin that shows up when you describe what you do?
Or maybe you have a different gremlim? What do you do? can be one of the most triggering questions in our lives.

How do you deal with that question? And would a re-frame come in handy? Let me know in the comments below.

 

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Hi, I’m Andrea

On this blog you’ll be learning with me how to use our voices, share our creative superpowers and live life in full color.

As an artist, photographer, life coach + mentor, I’m redefining what it means to be a SUPERHERO — ‘cause in my world, it’s got nothing to do with capes, spandex or sidekicks and everything to do with tenderness, intuition & baby steps of bravery.

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42 Comments

  1. cheri

    Oh yes, I certainly am a “feaster”

  2. Madelyn

    This totally made me feel better! I can’t make up my mind about what I want to be! I know to do tiny bits and pieces of everything (like play 3 songs on the piano fairly well). But I never thought it was “enough”. It’s nice when somebody flips the perspective and gives you the permission to be what you truly are. So I guess I’m a feaster too!

  3. Sharon Tomlinson

    Oh I have no problem saying “I am an artist”. But the fact is I’m a “feaster” too. The key to that is I do get bored doing just one thing. On top of that, I can’t even do what I do in the same way more than once or twice. “Feaster”, a good new word. Thanks

  4. Betsy

    When I tell people that I’m pursuing creative writing, they always ask, “what kind of writing do you do?” And always I respond by stumbling over some words, turning red, my stomach knotting, then trying to describe what I write by what I don’t write. I never know how to define it, in part because I’m still exploring. And a lack of definition seems to detract the meaning and significance of what I *do* write.

    I like this – reframing, and surrounding ourselves with people who can help us do that and live in it. Thanks for sharing, Andrea.

  5. Meredith

    I hate the “what do you do?” question! I always feel like the person asking it is trying to put me in a box. Is that paranoid?

  6. Andrea

    LOL! I totally get it.

    I think it’s our own stuff that gets in the way.

    We don’t have any other socially acceptable ways to get to know people in a short burst of time (at the cocktail party, at the park while your kids play, etc.)

    But what if we asked people other things like, “So what’s your dream?” or “What are you most passionate about?”

    We might get some funny looks. But it could be an interesting experiment. 😉
    andrea

  7. Anna

    Wow! Love this. Even when people ask what I do (and I tell them about the research I’m doing) they often follow it up with “but what ARE you? A nurse?” it always makes me question what I’m doing because I have no simple title. Makes me smile just thinking about the looks I’d get if I announced I am a feaster. 🙂 I have actually been avoiding becoming an ‘expert’ (aka getting stuck in one spot!) because I love working with different people and would get so bored being confined to one thing! I think a lot of non-festers find that kinda lame though, so I never say it out loud!

  8. whitney {rookiemoms.com}

    Yes! I love this! I feel like I should be able to answer that question with strength and confidence, so then I am disappointed with myself when I fumble.

  9. Sage

    YES! Oh, man I hate that question, I usually respond by saying “what DON’T I do?” But that isn’t very satisfactory either. I’m so glad to know that there are other “feasters” out there, too. Let’s start a support group!

  10. Allison

    Yes, definitely a “feaster” (although that term makes me think of vampires-ha!)
    I come by it honestly too. My dad and I are both known for our hair-brained ideas and constantly changing hobbies. I can’t imagine a life without this desire to explore and experience new things. It keeps me overwhelmed as I have more interests than time but I am thankful for it!

  11. Kerstin

    OMG. So that’s what I am! Not so much a creative feaster but when people ask me what I do I stumble along with my answers as well. Because I don’t have a ‘proper’ profession and my professional career is so checkered and I have had so many different jobs. Sometimes I call myself a Jill-of-All-Trades but that doesn’t work in job interviews.

    This post is very timely for me because the other day I was thinking about my next job (because I am moving, nearly 50, and who the hell is going to hire someone like me??) and I kind of had an epiphany and asked myself: “what if I stopped resisting the sense of fragmentation and started using it to my advantage? What if I transformed all this life experience I have accumulated over the decades into an asset? What if I gathered all the various pieces of my professional experience and my knowledge of the world and turned it into a beautiful and shining prism reflecting depth and authenticity?”

    Thank you, Andrea, I for one am very happy that you are a feaster because you share your feast so beautifully with us 🙂

  12. Sybil

    Feaster is great! I’m going to adopt it. Even better than Renaissance Person which just does not roll off the tongue.

  13. Laura

    Yes, I am definitely a feaster, and I have lately been trying to convince myself that it’s okay to not have one all-satisfying occupation. I would love to have someone congratulate me for this trait, so I can shake off the nagging “should”!

  14. Moni

    I am a feaster too, although I have a “regular” daily life. Going to work in the morning, working in an office etc. But I am at the same time interested in photography, travelling, writing my blog, home design, thinking how to improve social equality for children etc.

    The biggest challenge for me is to be in the present moment and do only one thing at the time. Sometimes it is hard, when you are interested in too many things. You never feel fulfilled or satisfied, because once you finish one thing your mind already wonders to the next one, and there is no rest in between.

  15. Katrina

    Oh, so very much a feaster here. Also struggling with the “eyes are bigger than the stomach” phenomenon…I want to DO everything that I think of, and I run out of time/energy.

  16. melissa

    oh yes, a feaster indeed. a reframe would be soul-soothing (and a total relief), as i continue to struggle with the synthesized name for my woven interests/desires. grateful for your fierce narrative…thank you, andrea.

  17. Marlon Jackson

    In college, multi-talented boys proudly referred to themselves as renaissance men. It was cool to be facile in many disciplines. It does take a special person to retain this spirit throughout life as the economic dictates will encroach and force us to focus on one thing to pay the bills. I enjoy helping disadvantaged people and have made this my main career. I also enjoy writing. I also enjoy fitness training. I also enjoy reporting. Tough to find one career that encompasses all of these disciplines. But I have always preferred to retain my true happiness. There is a price to pay for this. And I’m willing to pay it.

  18. Alexandra

    Oh yes. I’m always having new ideas, wanting to do new things, take up a musical instrument, thinking of jobs I could be good at…I think this is VERY common in the Burning Man community, particularly the “What do you do”, and answering that with things like, “Whatever I feel like!”, or “Just about anything I want”, and yes, “What don’t I do?!”
    Feaster is definitely appropriate.
    I’ve been a freelance copy editor for YEARS, and it has been great to have the freedom to travel, but I’m ready to go work around more people, and am looking for an info-desk type job at a library, museum, park, zoo, etc.
    Cheers. Love the URL, too, BTW. ;p

  19. Silvia

    Thank you so much.
    I have just read a perfect description of myself, and I have blushed while reading.

  20. Jo

    Someone who knows about these things and might just be called Martha Beck (I’ve been a total fangirl this week)says that in older societies the shaman would be a person who was storyteller, artist, healer, counsellor, herbalist and many other things. Nowadays we insist on separating those roles and that leaves many of us confused. And there ARE many of us because in our healthy, long-lived society the shaman-born are all over the place! Being confused. This concept makes complete sense to me and I recognise myself so strongly. Now all I need is a less loaded word than shaman 🙂
    Great post.

  21. Nicole

    Andrea, I am a feaster too. My counselor told me I am a “Master of Delight!” Kind of like a Dilettante with a positive spin, I guess. I think there are many of us who are reclaiming the “Renaissance Person” archetype and showing that it’s a valid way to live. xoxo. Also, have you checked out Barbara Scher? She has written a whole book on this called: Refuse to Choose. It’s pretty good!

  22. Jennifer Hagedorn Dizon

    Hallelujah! I am a feaster! Phheewww! I thought (thanks to comments – I believed them – and the gremlin – hard to ignore sometimes) I was a jane of all trades, master of none, and that that was a bad thing. Like I can’t focus. Like I can’t choose one. Like I am supposed to choose one. And I still feel horrible. In fact, in my Instagram ‘about me’ I tried to narrow it down to ‘writer. painter. photographer’ as some sort of an affirmation, and partly as a way to help me focus. I thought to myself, “own it, girl.. don’t be ashamed.” And then another part of me would say, what about the other stuff I do? Like if I put just ‘artist’, what about the other stuff? So I chose my trinity. Hmmm, now I can put ‘feaster’! Hahaha 🙂

    I’m also so delighted to read there are many ‘feasters’! Wow! I am so glad. I am enjoying everyone’s comments. Feels like home! Thank you Andrea! I wish I could bake you a pie and give you flowers. 🙂

    Yes. I fumble for the words when people ask what I do. Now, perhaps, even if I will still fumble, I will be more comfortable knowing “I am OK. I am not alone. Feasters rock!!!” hihihi 🙂 Yay! Best day ever! 😉

  23. Carole

    Love the photo and the post, Andrea! Your words – as they often do – sure resonate with me! In talking to my husband about this summer, I shared how I plan to set aside time to work on my novel…and how I want to train for a marathon and take piano lessons every week. Then he reminded me about the art workshop I am already signed up for (and our kids are soon out of school, we have our new puppy to love and train, and I have a part-time job at a library). I am definitely a feaster, and at the same time, there is something to be said for pacing and balance. I encourage my husband to feast more, and he encourages me to not overextend myself. 🙂

  24. Laura Gates

    Andrea,

    I stumbled across your blog looking at the WDS descriptions…Oh how I can relate! I have been called a multi-passionate entrepreneur (even though I work for a company as an executive coach, you can’t believe what you can do before 9 and after 5 when working online, or perhaps you can!), a scanner, a workshop/training junkie. When I describe myself I always feel like I need to give caveats. Or sometimes I just say “my passion is to help people find their soul’s purpose.” Often to a polite nod and deafening silence. My ENTIRE life I have been searching for ONE title I can use to describe myself. But that is not my lot in life. I am hoping for the day where I will not feel the need to define myself by what I do, but rather who I am.

  25. ashley

    I love this!! Feaster! What a great term… I like to think of myself as a feaster as well. I too have the gremlins… whenever someone asks if I am a painter I always struggle to say yes. Because I think, I can only say I’m ONE thing and, well, actually I work at a newspaper as a graphic designer… but I do art on the side sometimes… but not lately… so maybe I should say “no”… and then a friend will pipe up and say “Yes, she is a painter” and I usually get really shy. hehe…

    …Now that this term Feaster has come into play… I think I will be more proud to say that I do more than one thing.

    Ashley, Professional Feaster 😉 haha…

  26. Brandi

    Thank you. This has also come at the right time for me:) I have worked for many years In a “safe” office management role from 9-5 but spending every other minute trying to accept that I can be an artist, photographer, dressmaker, bookbinder etc. I even wanted to change careers just so it made more sense to me. What kind of artist works for an accountant?!? I have accepted this. It is my balance. I can proudly say I am an office manager and an artist and not feel like a contradiction:) Now, like most artists, I need to accept that I can dabble in all mediums. And that’s OK:) Love superhero journal by the way.

  27. Jennifer K.

    Oh God, I’m a feaster. Wait…That’s what I am? And all this time I thought I was just a flitter-er. I’ve been told this is a blessing AND a curse. But I do think that once a groove is gotten then the curse-like part falls away, is buried, gone. GONE.
    I am an artist (canvas, furniture, apparel, clay, singer-sort-of), a writer (and poet and documentary filmmaker), etc. etc.
    People always look at me sideways when they see all of the stuff I do.
    So when the question becomes “what do you do?” I just say I’m an Administrative Assistant.
    (I need help.)

  28. Jennifer K.

    I see typing errors in my post here. Hope it makes sense. OY. Creative minds, always working overtime and multitasking.

  29. Puanani

    I’ve settled on Artist, because I make things. Paintings, cakes, photographs, dresses, chalkboard drawings, furniture. I still feel funny saying it, but I say it anyway.

  30. Carol Anna McBride, Psychotherapist

    I answer with one word: Renaissance!
    ok. feaster is current, but Renaissance says it all… for me, since i’m over 60!
    thanks!
    carol

  31. richele

    I never know how to answer that question either:

    project manager, producer, stylist, art director, graphic designer, letterpress printer, casting agent, boss, wife, employee

    I can’t call it an artist that feels to hippy dippy for me. I usually just say graphic designer when I don’t know what else to say.

  32. Carrie Monroe O'Keefe

    I write “on the side” so what I tell people I do is my “real job.” The one I go to every day. But lately THAT has made me feel like an impostor because it’s not where my passion is anymore. Hoping someday I’ll be able to say in all seriousness “I’m a writer.”

  33. Kate

    I struggle with this.
    Oh, how I struggle.
    So maybe the answer is I Struggle.
    But I also feast. And panic. And explore. And create. And help. And am leading a rich and unsettled life.

    I know you were not necessarily being literal, but I have a resource to share.
    Not sure if you already know Mark Silver (Heart of Business), but if not, SO WORTH IT. He’s offering a new class, how to say what you do in one compelling sentence, and is offering the first class for free. If you have not already been there and done that, it is a 10 minute exercise I found to be *so helpful*–here’s the link:
    http://www.heartofbusiness.com/training-programs/say-what-you-do/first/

  34. Maureen @ Cottage 960

    Holy Hannah. That’s me. Her definition brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for this.

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