I am …

Why do we get so hung up on “title or profession” ?

Why is it, almost always, the first thing people ask others, when they meet them for the first time, is:

“What do U do?”

Yes, it’s true, our work takes most of our waking hours, but it doesn’t define who we are as a human being, or describe what kind of person we are, what personality we have.

I find the question quite absurd.

When I get asked that question, and I answer, “I teach in a university”; do you know what really annoys me? It’s when they give me that “nod” and “knowing” look, as if they have me all figured out.

Somehow it makes me sad. Because, dear Stranger, I’d like U to know me, to see me, as an individual. A person with layers of characters, not just a profession.

Brene Brown, the researcher+storyteller, gave me a great idea on how to deal with this dilemma. Discussing about people’s tendency on putting people in boxes, judging people by the profession in one of her talks, she explained how sadly, it almost comes across as, “I want to know what U do, your profession, because then I can judge how important U are to me, so I can decide whether or not I should spend more time with U.” And that’s very sad, I think.

One of the things I really like about Brene is her sense of humor. Continuing on the topic she said,

“ … I think… instead of asking, “What do U do?”, I will start asking people, “What do U like?”… That will really confuse people…”

I think that’s brilliant :).

I found that picture above in my “treasure chest” (yes, I do have one of those). My sister drew the cartoon before I left for Canada. She said, “So U can remember who U are, and so that U can stay true to yourself.”

I love it. And I think everybody should have one.

Especially now in the start-up world. If I’m hiring, I would like to know your personality, your character, what makes you tick, rather than what school U went to or who hired U before. Of course it’s good to know that U have the skills needed to get the job done; but, what kind of person are U? Can we like each other? And I guess most importantly…

Can I trust U that U will fight alongside with me when the going gets tough?! Because the reality is …Startup is hard.

Human beings are special. Just like the snowflakes, none is exactly the same. And that what makes each of us special, in our own way.


Like what you read? Give Sophia Athena a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.