Last night I talked to a friend who is on a job hunt. A lot of his self image comes from being an engineer and being between jobs made him feel like he lost that particular part of herself.
It made me think – why do we identify so much of who we are based on the job we’re doing?
I ran a little experiment; I browsed a bunch of profiles of people I’m following on Twitter, reading their bio. Unsurprisingly, for most of them the bio usually starts with “position X @ company Z”. More often than not, it is the only thing in that bio.
I get it, I totally do. I get it because for the longest time I was that person, a person who identified herself primarily on the job she was doing. For me, it was so much more than a job. My relationship, people I hung out with, even my apartment – all revolved around that job. My job was a central point of my life and in order to make it work I had to give up on certain things I like – running, baking, writing. And guess what? I almost drowned. The job was changing me – I was becoming bitter and sarcastic and even a bit mean at times. I had to leave when I realized I didn’t like the person I was becoming.
I am an engineer. Who I am was shaped by my choice of profession and my choice of profession was shaped by who I am. My “position X @ company Z” statement says I’m an engineer at Intercom and I am super proud of that fact. It is the best job I ever had and it has also changed me; it changed me in ways I am immensely grateful for – I became strong, confident and calm.
Yes, there are days when I stay long in the office, wanting to finish something I’m working on. The sole challenge of it consumes me to the point where I can’t think about doing anything else. On those days, I feel like nothing but an engineer. On some days, I’m 3500m high up in the mountains, skiing my way downhill, feeling the adrenalin rush, trying not to get hurt. On those days, I couldn’t feel less like an engineer.
But for most days I am a combination of so many things – an engineer, a woman struggling to get back into shape, a lost soul who enjoys a good chat with her friends alongside a good glass of wine, fashion police, a fanatic a bit too obsessed with arranging playlists on Spotify, lazy ass who enjoys stupid Netflix shows, skiing enthusiast, a baker who occasionally surprises her loved ones with the best cheesecake… I am unique, just like everyone else.
And I realize that’s a lot to squeeze into 160 characters, but – shouldn’t you at least try?