I went to a party sometime back (like way back). You know how parties are. People having drinks and chit-chat goes along. From politics and sports to what people wear and the taste of wine; everything is a topic up for discussion.
Perhaps, the question as to what you do for a living is a prominent one in party circles. It starts with an introduction, drifting towards your profession. After all, how would you be judged if not for the job you do?
So, I was standing in some corner (social distance) introduced to somebody addressed as Mr. X. Post the pleasantries, we are in business now.
Mr. X: “So, what do you do for making ends meet?”
Me: “IT. I work in IT.”
Mr. X: “Okay, and how’s that.”
Me: “Good. I mean, alright.”
Mr. X: “Sure.”
Me: “Oh, and I also write. I am freelancing too.”
Mr. X: “Cool (with fascinated eyes) and many more questions.”
See there. Exactly what I wanted to press on. The conversation goes fine till it entered the professional zone. Somehow, we let our careers define us. It is great to be involved in some fascinating jobs. Even if my job is good, I had to fill it with a writing angle.
I feared my profession defines me, so I bring in the alternate one to cover the tracks.
But what if I suck at the writing part too. Yes, I may be a hero in my story but am I? What if I am never going to make it big and become a real writer, whatever that is.
Is it only to elevate my self-respect?
The need to be seen and your self-worth
Money is a motivation, and pretty much everything revolves around it. Perhaps, we are all part of this loop. There is your job, and then there’s a high-paying one. No brainer, I’d say. We jump at the idea of the better one and grab it before it goes. Who’s to see what it is?
You’re so eager to succeed and make a mark, stress, and pressure rarely matter. Not because you crave some antique flower vase from Egypt or a Lazyboy recliner.
You slog and put yourself out there to be seen because your self-worth gets attached to your job. Success creates a chain reaction hard to resist. You get accolades for a project you completed or maximum sales that it starts blending into your identity. You become your job, and your ego and worth get aligned with it. Unknowingly, it becomes a vicious cycle that you ride along.
Why are you not your job or career?
You are many things besides your job and career. You are a child, brother, husband, friend, and many things more. The fact that a person is only valued by the profession and the value he brings to the community is a farce. You can be a wonderful father or husband and a human being in general, but nobody talks about that. Our careers have become a measuring parameter of our worth as a person, which is absurd.
Why the anomaly?
For ages, a person is judged by the value addition he does to the community. Your value depends on what you bring in when people need it the most. Consider electricians, carpenters, and painters, for example. When things go south, you call them to fix something, which adds value on the whole. The situation is purely transactional. No one cares what the electrician does otherwise. How is he as a family guy? Maybe he is excellent at some sport and is a wonderful father to his daughters. For us, he is an electrician who can repair shit for us.
The world doesn’t care who you are but what it can get from you. An electrician is called upon as you need his expertise on the subject you know nothing of. Moreover, the electrician is replaceable if he screws the job or something happens to him. We’ll call another guy to repair and fix stuff.
We should not tie our self-worth with our professions because:
We are replaceable
If not you, then somebody else. Who cares about you? The last year slammed the reality in our faces. We are not indispensable, although we might love to think like that. Yes, we need our professional careers to sustain and make progress, but at what cost? Rather than identifying and tying our self-worth with our job, we should look at the things we conveniently ignore.
What if you are a great father and a wonderful person?
What if you have breakfast and dinner with the family, making time for them?
To think of it, they seem trivial things but define you as a person.
What good are you and the job that you so dearly craved if your individual life and family shadows in the background?
Someone always does better than you at your job
Isn’t this obvious? You may be killing it at your work, but somebody can always be better than you. Does that make you less of a person? The fact that most people end up being mediocre or reach a certain level is revelation itself. Not everyone climbs the upper echelons in the corporate world and becomes some CEO or CTO. What’s the point of worrying?
You may end up at some managerial or higher level at best. How does it make any difference to who you are?
Detach who you are from what you do for a living
Let your career bring you pleasure, money, and fame may be. Make it your passion if you can, but do not make it your identity. Know your worth because it is more than what you do. You are not a mere employee dragging yourself to an office only to come back exhausted and perturbed by everything that happens there. People love you for who you are. You bring joy to your parents and family when you take care of their needs. You bring happiness to a friend who needs you the most. Above all, what you do other than your job is also a part of your personality.
Nobody, especially not some employer, should define your value but yourself. You get far less credit for who you are and more for what you bring to the table.
You are way more than your profession. It is a small part of the whole that should not overwhelm you as a person. What if tomorrow it gets taken away? Will you be the same then?
Your company will replace you, but your family won’t.
Make sure you realize that you are way more than your paycheck and profession.