So instead, I am choosing to write about a subject that was brought up by the person I spent the majority of my day with, the guy sitting next to me on the plane. Now, this person had the potential to make me write a rant as well, seeing as how he didn’t spend much of the time in solitude, the way I like to spend my time flying. I board a plane ready to enjoy my solo time and sometimes that can be severely interrupted by one simple question.
"So, what do you do for a living?"
There are two reasons I normally shy away from this question. For starters, it is not a short answer. I can’t simply say “I work in Marketing” or “I’m a personal trainer” (if my muscle definition is obvious that day), and let that be that. Saying you’re a professional track and field athlete comes with loads and loads of follow up questions. What does that mean…how do you make a living…when do you compete…who do you run for…how fast can you run a mile…what school do you go to (they missed the ‘professional’ part)…did you ever run the 440 yard dash…what do you think of Marion Jones…how do you train… and then the question that always gets thrown in there that is my other reason for hesitation, have you ever been to the Olympics?
Because people associate track and field with the Olympics, they figure all of us have been. I feel like it’s a lightweight disappointment to them. Or maybe that’s just my own insecurities. I don’t know. But after a conversation I took part in this weekend, I learned about the importance of talking openly and freely with strangers about what we do for a living, and being excited about it. I know that I need to be better at networking and chit chatting with folks I don’t know. All my friends will tell you this is not my strong point. But you never know whom you might be speaking with and how they might be a great contact now or somewhere down the road.
I also just need to appreciate the fact that people care at all. 10 years from now when people ask what I do and I tell them I do market research for company X, they’ll simply nod politely and go back to their magazine. At that point I’ll want to add that in my past I use to be so good at something, there were only a handful of people in the world who were better. I’ll want to explain in great detail what I do on a daily basis and how that talent has allowed me to travel all over the world. I’ll surely be flying in coach, as I will no longer be flying over 100,000 miles a year. So I should definitely be grateful for those individuals who seem interested in what I do for a living and want to know more. These people could become fans of our sport, and perhaps even a fan of me! Shoot, some might even become a loyal blog reader…you just never know.