Yes, I have heard these exact words: “You’re a Dr., but reduced to selling $10 necklaces.” This unpleasant experience occurred in early December, 2017.
I happened to be set up at a local art show, in a nearby community. I was invited to take part in this annual event, which I found very flattering. Along with my artwork, I chose to display the polymer clay jewelry that I had been designing for the past couple of years.
Doing so allowed me to get out of the house, to connect with fellow artisans, and to possibly earn some extra money. I was enjoying taking part in this event. I exchanged business cards with other artists, as well as ideas about new types of artistic projects to pursue, including pour painting. The afternoon was progressing nicely. The crowd waxed and waned as the day unfolded. I received several compliments about my artistic ability, which is always flattering to hear.
A somewhat familiar looking middle-aged woman approached my table. I realized that our daughters had attended high school together. I introduced myself, and made reference to this fact. She commented about recalling that I had been enrolled in graduate school, if she was not mistaken. I told her that, in fact, I had completed my doctorate. She promptly blurted out, “You’re a doctor, but reduced to selling $10 necklaces.”
I can’t say that hearing those insensitive words didn’t sting a little. There was so very much, of course, that she didn’t know about me. She didn’t realize how many years I had invested to receive my Ph.D., and that I achieved my doctorate after having been diagnosed with MS. She knew nothing about how my physical health continued to unravel as time elapsed. This created enormous difficulties with trying to remain employed full-time. She knew nothing about how I resisted applying for disability benefits, for so many different reasons.
I simply share this experience to highlight all that may be taking place within any given person’s life, at any point in time. Words have consequences, so please choose yours carefully.