I think most of us are asked this question immediately when we meet a new person. It’s an innocent enough question; most people are genuinely curious and just want to get to know us better. If they know what we “do,” there’s some connection for them to relate to us.
So then why is it so hard for me to answer this question? Well, first, how do I even begin to answer it? I typically start with “I’m an attorney.” Then follows the questioning of where I work, what field I do, where I interned, etc. Sometimes it turns into a discussion of the legal profession, or whatever the political issue of the month is. This is where the problems begin. It’s hard to know how to quickly say “I’m an attorney who graduated in 2011 and decided to practice on my own. Oh yes, and I’m also a musician and language learner.” Usually once somebody gets the whole list, that’s when the flood of questions follow: “What language do you speak? Where did you learn it? Are you getting paid to learn languages? You should have learned X instead of Y.”
Now, it’s really not much of a complaint. I enjoy telling people about my background. I think it’s somewhat unusual, and I really like to promote different interests. Sometimes it creates an interesting discussion! What makes it so hard is that I’m tempted to fit the expectation of one interest or another. I have to be either an attorney or a musician. Of course, I’m not saying we don’t have to make decisions! When one pays the bills and the other is primarily a hobby, yes, generally take the one that pays first! But that’s not all I am. When I’m “off the clock,” I’m not just an attorney. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing if people think I’m a little strange because of my interests.
So maybe the solution for now is to just embrace the reactions people have when they hear of the musical attorney. There’s nothing wrong with being a little unusual. After all, you never know when it might work out to help you!