A job is much like a marriage, with the employer playing the role of the spouse. It’s a give and take – you give your time and skills, and you get compensated in return. As with relationships, a new job can be exhilarating in the beginning. But as time progresses it becomes easy to forget why we chose a career path in the first place.
With the leaps and bounds that technology has made in the recent decade, our jobs have become even more intertwined with our personal lives. A sort of identity crisis of the masses. Now more than ever, professionals need to know where to draw the line between who they are and what they do.
Why we define ourselves by our profession.
Society loves to categorize people into boxes. The dentists go into this box, the travel agents go into that box, and the bellman has his own box over there. It makes sense to use boxes to understand others. Most simply don’t have the time to really get to know every person they meet, so instead they learn about them through presumptions. “Oh he’s a fireman? He must be brave. She’s an engineer? She must be really smart”. And so forth.
However, the risk is in defining ourself through our profession. By doing this, we force upon ourself a template which doesn’t necessarily fit. Before you chose your profession, you were first and foremost an individual, with interests, a circle of friends, and hopes and dreams. Don’t lose sight of that.
It’s about being resilient.
For those who construct identity through their profession, the loss of a job can be catastrophic. In an instant, their own understanding of self is toppled. And while you may be thinking that your job is safe, think of how many individuals thought the same thing before getting the pink slip.
If the worst happens, you need to be able to bounce back as soon as possible. Unemployment is not a good time to be having an identity crisis, because bills don’t discriminate on employment status. They will come regardless. Instead, avoid the identity crisis by understanding and finding identity with who you truly are in the first place.
Maybe it’s time to refind yourself
If it has been a while since you have identified with something outside of work, then this next little bit may be difficult. Think back to when you were a child, what made you laugh and smile. What did you daydream of doing day-in and day-out. Do the same for every stage of your life: highschool, college, etc.
As you do this, you may have one memory which elicits an emotional response moreso than the others. That memory is your starting point to finding out who you are once again. Whether it’s art or athletics, that daydream constructs a very important part of your individuality.
A lesson to take away.
The influence that our job has on our character is undeniably important. However, the lesson is that our jobs should augment who we are, not define it. A job should add value to your character, and make you a better person in general. But even if it is all taken away, our character remains intact.