I believe Americans partially identify themselves by the work they do. Asking what someone does for a living is usually in the first group of questions you ask someone after being introduced. It makes sense. We work hard and are driven to suceed as a culture.
We are the country of Yankee Ingenuity – where if at first you don’t succeed you try again. And, when THAT doesn’t work, you dig your nails into your goal until you’re finally able to bring it down like a bobcat on a hiker on a suburban trail.*
Graphic? Why, yes. Yes it is.
But, while we live in the gracefully shaded land of Instagram and beautifuly photographed blog posts – all while sitting alone in our cubicle at work eating a brown bag lunch – it often becomes apparent that what we want and what we have aren’t exactly in line with each other.
(I realize that both the mediums above can be carefully staged – but Pinterest wouldn’t be the hotbed of activity if we all didn’t want these beautiful creations to be our lives.)
Growing up I had BIG PLANS.
I had my eyes on a PhD in physics. I realize now this was rediculous. (I am not good at math. At all.)
Then I moved on to geology. (This was far more realistic and reasonable.)
Then, I got sent home from college in the midst of a psychotic break.
(Change. In. Plans.)
Suddenly my career dreams disappeared and I spent all my time an energy focusing on keeping my life together (aka, staying alive and outside the padded white room).
Enter “the Job”. I needed one – and am thankful for my family for providing the ultimatim that I GET one.
The job I got was administrative in nature and paid the bills. This was my “hold over” job until “I started my career”, and therefore my life.
The only thing is, I’m still in my hold over job 12+ years later. And, I have a hard time reconciling that job with the dreams I identified myself with. Secretary vs. Scientist, kinda different in nature.
I’m lucky that my closest friends are in the science field – so I get to live vicariously through their experiences of reading (and understanding) journal articles, lab notebook grading and answering the same series of questions over and over and over again with each new semester.
I realize now that I don’t want to be a scientist in reality – although I wouldn’t mind playing one on TV.
(What I COULD deal without is the shocked look co-workers give me when I explain the most basic of scientific facts. Hello people – I’m not a moron. I have highly educated friends who share their knowledge. Why is this so suprising?)
My wise-beyond-his-years brother shared something with me via a Facebook post late last night. He told me to focus less on my job and more on my passions. Then he told me he loved me.
Damn kid made me cry at 4am before I even had my coffee.
Clearly he could see what I’ve stopped looking at: I’m NOT my job. My job has a fantastic purpose: it allows me to eat, live somewhere I love, pay my bills, support my smartphone addiction, etc. These are all good things.
But, they are not ME.
It got me to thinking: who am I really? What would I want to define ME?
I came up with:
Slightly nutty – but funny.
Crafty (In the artistic sense, not the maniacal genius one.)
I’d been realizing lately that my job does not have to identify me to the world if I don’t want it to. I’m currently chosing not. The job is a job. I don’t have to let the repetitive invoice processing, contract issuing and office politics define me any more.
Those self-imposed bonds can suck it hard.
*(If you’re interested: If I’m the bobcat – a Mary Kay pink Cadillac is totally my suburban hiker.)