Who are you?

Your job does not define you, and yet we are often introduced in terms of how we make a living. Questions like “what do you do for a living?” “what line of work are you in?” reinforce the concept that our occupation defines us, but it only gives a brief glimpse of who we really are. In my work, I often help clients who have some kind of limitations and have trouble returning to their jobs because of an injury or illness. If they’ve succumbed to defining themselves by their work, their task is even more difficult.

That soldier who lost a leg and cannot be a part of an infantry mission ever again also has great fun creating feasts in the kitchen, and he loves his annual retreat to the mountains where this year he will finish writing his ninth play. The nurse with a worn out back loves has a passion for working with stained glass. Her church is about to unveil a beautiful stained glass window that she has created, but you will never know learn that about her if you just focus on what she has done to earn a living.

The next time you meet someone, resist the temptation to ask those standard questions. Instead, ask them about the things they love, their hobbies or their family. Their answer may reveal a whole lot that you can never get when you ask the usual questions about work.

Then start thinking about yourself in terms or who you are and what drives you, instead of defining yourself by what you do for a living.


Lynda said...

Too true Pam!! I am much more than my disability and a PT Dog Trainer!

The Natural State Hawg said...

I like this post. Like it a lot, in fact.

Here's why. A few years ago, I made a living as an attorney. I lived in northwest Arkansas at the time (home of Wal-Mart, Tyson, J.B. Hunt) and one of the first things people asked me was what I did for a living. When I told them I was an attorney, they were impressed.

After I quit practicing law and went back into journalism, I got the same question and people weren't so impressed. I hadn't changed a bit, but my job had.

I make my living in public relations these days and live in my hometown of Benton, Ark. One of my favorite things about this town is that no one really gives a damn about how I make a living. The folks around here care about the individual more than the career.

That's the way to go, I think.

Again, this is a great post!

The Natural State Hawg

Diane Scott said...

Exceptional advice! Too many people define themselves by their jobs forgetting to live. I really enjoyed reading this... and am about to point it out to someone I know :)

Pam Robertson said...

Thanks for your replies, each of you. It's great to hear from people who understand - and have the courage - to create the life that reflects who they are instead of what they do for a living.

Natural state hawg I can totally relate to you moving - I did the same last year, a move of 3000 miles to the place that is dear to my heart, rather than a place that supplied work.
Diane thank you, and hope that the person you pass this along to gets something form it.
Lynda you are sure right that you are so much more than labels - I know you as a terrific dog trainer, but an even better friend!
Thanks again all of you! :o)