You know what I’ve noticed recently? Whenever people ask me what it is that I do, not only do I have something to tell them, I actually -want- to tell them about it. I’m keen to describe the different projects I am working on, proud to share this with everyone who wants to hear more. How different this used to be!
Let me give you a ‘Before’ and ‘After’, starting with the former; me working in finance. I remember two situations in particular, both of them occurring on a regular basis, painfully confronting me with the fact that I wasn’t in the right place. The first one is work related.
In London as well as in Paris I frequently travelled for work. As many of us, I would have the usual small talk with the taxi driver. The obvious ‘So, what do you do?’ always made me uncomfortable. Partially because of the reputation of banks and bankers, for sure, but mostly because I didn’t want to be a banker. ‘I work in a bank, how long have you been driving taxi’s for?’ or something similar I would reply, trying to change the subject sooner rather than later.
In a more personal setting the same thing happened when I was at a party meeting new people. I dreaded the ‘…and you Neelie, what do you do for a living?’ The typical reaction I would get was an ‘Ahhh…’ paired with a nodding head and some sort of – I’ve got her all figured out now – look.
Why is it that this seems to be one of the most inevitable questions at social gatherings? It’s almost as if this is the only thing that matters, and we’re being judged depending on our answer.
It seems to me that what we do is often associated with who we are. An understandable way of thinking (and the easiest thing to do, right?) but such a shame. A shame because so many of us are doing a job they don’t particularly enjoy or that isn’t aligned with their interests or passions. They do so because they have a family to feed or a mortgage to pay or because they are saving up for their lifelong dream of starting their own business.
We are so much more than our jobs. Rather than asking someone you meet at a party what it is they do try asking them what it is they love doing. I’m sure you’ll both have a much better evening!
ps. As for the before mentioned ‘After’, I think I pretty much described that one in the first paragraph of this post…