I’ve always hated the phrase “you are not your job” when used as a way to state that what you do for a living shouldn’t define who you are.
“But why, Claudia?”
I’ll tell you why! One of the first things we ask a new acquaintance/date/dude we sit next to on the bus is “what do you do?” And people respond with all sorts of things. “I am a barista.” “I am a student.” “I am a rocket scientist.” “I am currently unemployed.”
Clearly, jobs matter (or we just really suck at asking each other interesting questions).
So my claim is this: if we’re so bent on being interested in other peoples’ jobs, clearly we must think that the job itself has something to do with the person’s personality or likes or desires or whatnot.
And if we expect someone’s job to be a reflection of them (why else would we ask what they did for a living, after all?), clearly we think that there’s something going on where our jobs should at least bring us some modicum of joy.
So what am I saying? I’m saying that your job shouldn’t define who you are—you should find a job where your attitude about said job defines who you are.
EXAMPLE: suppose there’s this dude who really, really, really liked repairing watches. So he gets a job as a watch repairer. Now, watch repairer is probably not the sort of occupation where you’d think, “man, is that guy gonna change the world or what?!” And the dude doesn’t think so, either. But that doesn’t change the fact that he really, really, really likes enjoys his job because he’s doing what he likes to do.
And every time someone asks him what he does, he enthusiastically replies, “I’m a watch repairer!” as if it was the coolest, most important thing a person could be.
Because to him, it is.*
Now obviously I know we can’t always have jobs like this—or even that many of us won’t ever get to have jobs like this. But I think we should never stop striving to have jobs that we want to have define us. Because if we’re not enthusiastic about the thing we spend most of our waking hours doing, why are we even bothering with life?
*Note: this is pretty much how I feel about my current job