That’s one of the first questions we’re asked when meeting someone for the first time. The answer usually entails some sort of job or profession. Basically, whatever brings in money and pays the bills. However, this week I thought a lot about why it’s our job that defines who we are – the snapshot of a person’s life we choose to ask about. I don’t have answers, but I do have ideas. Read on.
My Vacation Epiphany
I spent the past week in Costa Rica (which I would highly recommend by the way, but that’s an entire novel unto itself.) The people there are very friendly and I answered the “where are you from and what do you do” question frequently. After a while though, I didn’t enjoy answering it. I love my job and wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I was trying to escape work this week, not think about it.
Why do we ask what people do? My first thought is it’s because that’s how we spend a significant portion of our time every day. It also gives clues to our personalities and interests. “Oh you’re an engineer. Cool, you must like math.” “Nursing, how interesting, you must like helping people.” But I also feel a little weird about making someone’s occupation the number one thing I care about in a brief, “let’s get acquainted” conversation.
What Makes You Happy?
What if instead our first question was “What makes you happy?” or “Tell me about what’s most important to you?” Perhaps these seem a little too personal to share with a stranger and our occupations are a less intrusive way to search for common ground to talk about.
Regardless, I am committed to feeling like more than my job. I am a speaker and an educator, but I’m first a wife, a sister, a daughter, a dog lover, a travel enthusiast, and creative thinker. I feel fortunate to be able to earn money doing work I enjoy, but work is what I do, it’s not all of who I am.
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