Of the friends I keep, I am practically the only one who is not a professional in the strict sense. The best man at my wedding? Lawyer. My wife? Journalist. My sister? At Harvard Law. My other best friend from high school? Studying accounting. His wife? Accountant (auditing department). Two close friends are Mechanical Engineers.
Even the friends I have who are not members of a literal profession seem to have a calling — a professional membership — that I often wish I had for myself. A (very talented) composer. A few software engineers.
In a way, I have always struggled with this. In college, I declared my major (Diplomacy and World Affairs) because I wanted to study abroad, and declaring was a requirement to go; I picked the major I was closest to completing. If I got a do-over, I’d probably pick Economics.
What I do now is hopelessly ill-defined, and in true Groucho Marx fashion, I don’t particularly want to belong to the clubs that would have me as a member. I am probably best described as an event organizer, though I don’t really think of what I’m doing as being a part of the “Events and Meetings” industry.
Another way to capture my work is to call me a “startup guy” — the event I’m creating now is in a way it’s own startup. The events I worked on before were created, owned, and operated by a five to six person crew at The Parnassus Group. I like this club rather more, but the shared vision is not something I really buy in to…I don’t think, for example, that you need to take VC money to have a big success. And even so, it lends little clarity to my skill set, and the only real metric for success is money.
Money is great, and may actually be the ultimate metric of success in our society. But it would certainly be nice to have other paths to public recognition — to be able to demonstrate mastery of a craft in some other way. Or just to have a widely recognized craft in which excellence could be obtained, even if not widely recognized.
At the root, I think this is where my profession envy comes from. I wish to feel master of a craft, and at least so far, the craft is elusive (or more pessimistically, I refuse to identify it so as to save my pride from my incompetence).