It’s been nearly a year since I graduated from my label of “College Student.” Shedding it…losing it…those are fair ways to describe how I feel about it too. After being out of school for only a few months, it was somewhat understandable that I was having what I called an Identity Trial. Four years I had spent in college, and many more before that in various levels of school, always introducing myself as a “student at ______.” Student. It’s what I knew. It had become who I was, and I was okay with that.
Until it wasn’t there anymore.
For most of the past year I had a few titles I wore part-time due to various jobs. They were fine, but nothing I hung my identity on, nothing permanent enough to get overly attached to.
And then. A full-time job, an office with real walls and a window, and a title. One that will be printed on my business cards and gets added to the end of emails. A title that says, “This is what I do, this is who I work for.”
But I am somewhat reluctant to pull this title on fully. It is what I do, but it is not who I am.
Maybe this makes me a bad employee. It’s not that I dislike my title or my company; I’m quite honored to have a job, and I respect and appreciate who I work for and with. But I’m realizing I do not want my job to define me. I want to approach it as a shirt, one I wear proudly and well when the time is right, but not as skin. This job, this title, any job, any title, does not define who I am as a being.
Some blurring between what I do and who I am is inevitable, nor is it necessarily bad. Because of who I am, I will do the job differently than others would–who I am shapes how I do what I do.
I work at least 40 hours a week and come in contact with a variety of fascinating people, thoughts, and ideas–over time, these will in part shape who I am.
But they are not the same. Who I am remains separate from what I do.
When I was a student, I was fine letting that be both what I did and who I was. Things are different now though, and I am choosing to not be my title.
Til next time…
p.s. Does what you do define who you are? Why or why not?