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You Are What You Say You Are: A Farewell to Aprons

February 21, 2012

On Me Natalie Mueller Comments Off on You Are What You Say You Are: A Farewell to Aprons

It was nothing personal, truly, but it was high time that I did something for myself. We were so young when we first met. We’ve changed. Things got complicated. I’m no longer a young, impressionable student. The years have gone by, and now I want more.

Today I have taken my first real step towards my professional career. Despite having spent every minute since I graduation crafting resumes and cover letters, fine-tuning my website, networking, and writing, I was still a slave to my adolescence until this morning. At a quarter til eight, I took my manager into the backroom of the corporate coffee shop that I’ve worked for since my senior year of high school and I broke up with my job.

Our relationship was by no means abusive; we had a good run. My job was always there for me. In fact, that was the problem. I had to stop hiding behind the bar, the apron, and the over-priced addictive beverages. If there is one thing I have learned in my post-grad, job-hunty career it is that no one is standing around waiting to give you permission.

I was a barista for so long that that is exactly what I became: a barista. But I’m not anymore. Not by self-identification, not by my resume, not by practice.

I am a writer.


Because I say I am. Because I love it. Because I write.

Back when I was finishing up school, I began to eagerly browse job-postings in anxious preparation. When I saw a post on Reddit from a current copywriter stating that they were moving and would gladly refer a fellow redditor for the position, I threw my hat in the ring. The backlash I received from the poster was shocking.

Apparently, I had committed an affront to the copywriting industry by referring to myself as one of their own. My lack of formal, labeled, copywriting experience seemed to make my claim at being nothing more than a aspiring/junior-level copywriter undignified and insulting. Additionally, I was told that I would never get a job in copywriting without previous copywriting experience.

Now, criticism of that last bit has been exhausted by basically everyone who has ever applied for a job, at least in the last twenty years or so, but it was the first part that really got to me. Just because my birth certificate, diploma, and CV don’t contain the exact title “copywriter,” does not mean that I cannot write copy. By that argument, I was never even a barista because my official title was “team member”.

I know that we all like to think that we are special and no one else could possibly do what we do, but we are wrong. Unless your desired title requires special license to practice it, you are what you say you are. Face it, people change careers mid-professional-life all of the time. Doctors are doctors one day and then actors the next. In fact, I have friends who are both at the same time.

Unfortunately, I allowed this scolding to knock me down. Suddenly, I was afraid to say I was even a writer, let alone identify myself with my target occupation of copy and content writer. But that was then, and now I’m calling it like I see it.

Your title should be warranted by your passion and abilities, not the literal interpretation of your CV.

I am a writer.


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