Why we do what we do: the “feeling”
You can blame it on the bronchitis, but today I feel like getting all mushy and talk about “the feeling”. It’s been a while since the feeling first hit me, but it happened a couple of months ago, sitting at home thinking about my job. It was one of those weird gushy feelings that you get when you have a real, positive emotional attachment to something, like puppies or your mother (most of the time). At the time, it struck me as odd to have that feeling, given I was thinking about a job that didn’t entail saving forests or wildlife, curing illnesses or feeding the starving masses. And the more I thought about it, the stranger it seemed to feel such a strong, emotional attachment to working for a company whose business is providing others with the tools to make a website.
Since that day, I’ve thought a lot about why I genuinely love my job. I know that a big part of the reason is that I work with a bunch of people who I really like working with. And it doesn’t hurt that my morning commute takes about as long as it does to read this sentence. But I also think it’s pretty darn neat to help others express themselves, in just about the most public way possible.
If you think about it, the world is a daunting place, filled with lots of scary things. Among the most terrifying things I’ve ever experienced is job interviews. You sit there, getting judged, and sometimes HR just loves mixing things up by taking away the furniture and bringing a friend or two. Being the center of attention is one thing, but it gets stomach-churningly awful once the props you’d usually hide behind, like tables, are taken away, leaving you naked (metaphorically speaking) before your judge, jury and executioner.
In spite of its size, the Internet is a much more pleasant place to be. It offers the chance to stand before the huddled masses and to express yourself, judgment-free. You know people will react, but you’ll probably never know who they are, or what they thought. It’s a safe place to hang out.
Or so it may seem.
Sometimes, it actually takes a hell of a lot of guts to get up and say what you want to, even in cyberspace. Just talking about it can be a gut-wrenching experience, in spite of the otherwise anonymous setting. Expressing oneself online is sometimes the most courageous thing imaginable, as it involves talking about – and through – things that we might otherwise like to pretend don’t exist, and putting them out there, for all to see.
I noticed a website the other day which provided the missing piece in my career analysis (aka navel-gazing). It reminded me why I love my job and how I have managed to get all warm and fuzzy about a career that doesn’t involve saving the world. Seeing it also made me realize that my job helps others do what they need to, and that - in my own way - I really was a part of something meaningful.
It seems I actually get a kick out of knowing I help people share and express themselves, whether it be the kid who needs to feel important by posting videos of himself skating, the struggling mom trying to make ends meet by selling gift cards online, or the 40-something guy searching for meaning in a life already half over by sharing his love of fast cars.
A couple of days ago, when I came across Jodi’s site, it reminded me why I love to do what I do. I help others to create a website so they can share, express, and say what they need to - for whatever reason - because it’s important to them. So, I may not have replanted the rainforests of my hometown, or done any other of the several thousand things I’ve always wanted to do. But in my own small way, I’m part of something that enables others to express themselves online; I work for a company, and in the company of people, that help others make a difference in their own lives. And for me, for us, that’s all we really need to know, and drives us to do what we do.
Good luck Jodi, and to all the Jodi’s out there. We're glad we could help be a small part of the journey.