Why you are more than your job title
It's quite typical upon meeting to ask someone what they do. Within seconds most people, perhaps quite unintentionally, analyze whether or not they have any similarities with their fellow party-goer. Some might even feel an inkling of panic and glance around for others to join in for fear the conversation may fall short.
Finding yourself feeling inadequate, even with a perfectly fine job, may have to do with the fact that we had only a few short years to research and convince ourselves that a particular career path will be right for us - and quite optimistically, one that will bring us both financial security and unrelenting happiness.
In a notification-driven culture, most people wouldn't fathom missing an ever-important work meeting. But the appointments we rarely keep are the ones with ourselves. Little time do we carve out for what nourishes our soul or what really piques our interest. We also take little time to hold a mirror up to our inner selves. To learn that perhaps we flourish with one-on-one relationships, but hate the idea of addressing large crowds. That maybe we are terrible at receiving feedback but prosper when we are given the creative reins. Without this knowledge, it is no wonder we may find ourselves falling short.
Thus, it's more important to have the knowledge of who we truly are than to attach our entire being to a job title.
If people were truly honest, you would learn that they rarely care about how you spend 40 hours a week. They want to know if you are "like" them in the most crucial of ways. If you, too, had doubts about big decisions, or a spouse who was at times distant, or a loved one who was gravely sick, or moments when you were vulnerable or insecure, or late nights that you were nearly inconsolable. And they want to learn what helped you move past these events, to what brings you happiness now. And alas, what makes you a little more human, not the 40- or 50-hours a week working machines that we already know how to be. Maybe you are interested in concocting a recipe for the perfect rye bread, or maybe you find joy in driving alone at night while listening to ABBA, or perhaps you are interested in researching where the world's best pencils come from. Maybe you find solace in walking at night when lamp posts are blanketed by thick snow.
All of these represent important complexities and intricacies regarding your inner self, providing an identity beyond your job title.
"The Little Book of Lykke" by Meik Wiking is a book which offers both inspiration and research as to what makes us happy individuals. Below is an excerpt demonstrating how a simple interest can be a motivation towards fulfillment and purpose, but also holds no attachment to how we normally spend our working hours.
"Why not become the world's leading expert in blue?
You would have to look into history (why do we call royal blood blue blood?), science (why is the sky blue?), anthropology (what are the different cultural connotations of blue?), language (why are blue, blau (German), and bleu (French) similar, but so different to azul (Spanish), neibieski (Polish) and sininen (Finnish)?, anatomy (how many shades of blue can the human eye identify?), genetics (why do so few people have blue eyes?), and photography (what is so magical about the blue hour?).
If you were to become the expert in blue, imagine saving up for and planning to visit Chefchaouen, the completely blue city in the Rig mountains of Northern Morocco, the Blue Nile in Ethiopia, or the Blue Mountains in Australia, where an organic chemical found in the abundant eucalyptus trees in the mountains provides elements for the blue haze after which the mountains were named. Those experiences would be even more rewarding if they were part of your passion for blue. "
So when you are asked the inevitable question of what do you do, perhaps next time you can remark, "I am interested in the color blue."
As for me, I like the color emerald green, and I feel calm in a forest of pine trees. I'm also very interested in change, a constant refinement towards a happier and healthier life. I read books that celebrate change, and I visit countries whose ethos I want to adopt into my own daily life. Just like you, I too, have had some sad and dark moments and also some really good ones - ones that I would love to share over a cup of coffee. I like to have conversations in a quiet coffee shop because I'm one of those people who like one-on-one conversation because a lot of people looking at me makes me nervous. I can't command the attention of a crowd, but that's okay because I know that. I like to be given the creative reins, but I think it can at times be a scary process.
All of these things provide more of an insight into who a person truly is than the few words that will be used to describe a job title. We should try to define ourselves more by who we are than what we do, and maybe then we will have a better window into each other's unique complexities - and to our own, too.
Whatever it may be, I hope you find your blue.