Does Your Job Title Define Who You Really Are?

Who are you? What do you do?

Our world is full of jobs. We all have one. Doctors, Lawyers, Writers, Teachers, Accountants, Sales Agents, Waiters, Pilots, Graphic Designers, Musicians…

Tell me — who are you? What do you do?

How do we value each other?

For many of us, our job title defines us. 
It is how we value one another. It’s how we earn respect.
There are certain jobs we value more than others.
For example, what would you think of me if I said I was a musician? Or a writer? And what if I said I was a founder of a music label and a creative production business? Would it change how you value me?

The truth is — anyone can make themselves a founder or CEO of something. 
I might be an executive of a large corporate, but a terrible human being.
Is this really the best way to judge someone?

Today, it is not politically correct to judge someone by their sex, race, or skin color, but we still have to make a quick assessment when we meet someone. 
It is only natural. Do they pose a danger? Are they worth looking up to?

Some professions earn more respect than others because they require years of studying and practicing. You probably thought of doctors. 
But is it not only doctors who study for years. I have studied music for over 10 years before I considered myself a professional. Hours and hours every week. Lessons, practices, self-explorations, collaborations, projects, exams, failures, successes…
But most of those years weren’t in conventional studying ways such as attending college. Thus, it is not highly regarded.

How can I belong but still feel special?

We all have an urge to belong. To be a part of one or many groups. 
A person’s gender, age, nationality, and religion — those usually provide an easy access to be a part of something. We buy the same items and consume the same art (it is called ‘pop’ for a reason), trying to feel ‘normal’.

We also have a natural desire to find out who we are. 
To feel special and unique.
But we never take the time to get to know ourselves. So we pick the easy way to get over this urge. We use our jobs to define ourselves.
It is why many of us feel worthless without a job.
When we say: “I am a doctor” or “I am a writer,” It fulfills our need to be someone. It gives us that label we are looking for. It’s that “this is who I am.”

Our jobs take over a third of our time — 60 hours a week.
We spend roughly 56 hours sleeping every week. It leaves us with only 52 hours a week to do all our chores, spend time with loved ones, relax, go out and travel, and to try to belong.

Tell me what you do and I’ll tell you who you are

I am a CEO of a tech company in the Silicon Valley,” a woman says, expecting the other person to be in awe.
Most people proudly announce their job title if they are either happy with what they do or if they expect to get recognition for it.

I was one of those people.
For years I have referred to myself as a musician. I was pleased to be a musician although I knew people would not respect me for it. In fact, I was somewhat waiting for others to roll their eyes when I said I was a musician 
(“A musician is not a job!”). I wanted to see if they think less of me.

We judge each other by appearance — the clothes we wear, the car we drive, and the house we live in. But through our jobs, we can judge each other easily. Because my job supposedly tells you two main things about me
my financial status and my importance in society.
If I’m a CEO of a company, I’m likely to be wealthy. If I’m a doctor, I am widely respected. If I’m a musician, I am probably financially poor.

When I meet someone for the first time, I remind myself that whatever I heard about them, their job or financial status — it is not fair to judge them by that. 
I put myself in their shoes. How would I expect others to judge me?

Play by the book or don’t play at all

During all those years I labeled myself as a musician what I essentially did was to play by the book. I was a part of this shallow judging game.
I did what people expected of me — I gave them an answer so they could put me in the appropriate box: rich/poor, important/ordinary.

By reciting “I am a musician” to all those typical “what do you do” questions, I started to believe that this is all I am — a musician.
This belief limited me in many ways. I began living up to my own label.
Instead of finding unique ways to promote my music, for example, I was using the traditional ways all musicians use. After all — I was just a musician.

Music has been one of my main passions for years. Writing lyrics, composing, recording, performing, releasing, and promoting — those were the things I spent most of my life doing. It was and still is one of my professions. It is a huge part of who I am and I am proud of it. 
But does it sum up who I am? No. I am much more than that.
I am a writer, I am a lover, I am a good friend, brother, and son. I am a football lover. I am a geography geek. I love pistachio ice cream. I love meeting new people and having conversations. I love cold weather. I don’t like the beach. And I could go on and on.

And what about you?
Are you really just a doctor?
A writer? A CEO?

It’s a crime to define people by their job

Each person is a whole universe filled with his or her unique personality, interests, passions, and goals. Just like we expect others not to judge us by our age, sex, race, religion or skin color — we should not judge them by their jobs.

Take John P. Weiss, for example. I love the stuff he uploads here on Medium. John spent years working as a police officer. So is John a police officer? 
Is John an artist? Is John a writer? Yes, yes, and yes. But not only!

Once we stop playing by the book, we begin to value each other by what really matters. How good you are at your job, your values, your achievements, your passions, your ability to learn… And so much more.

You are not just a customer service advisor. She is not just an accountant. 
I’m not only a musician.
It’s great to have a profession (assuming you enjoy it!) and it should be part of who you are. But you shouldn’t limit yourself to it. You are so much more.

That’s why it took me a while to write my Medium bio.
Can someone summarize who they are in 140 characters?
Do I want to say I am a musician or a writer? Do I want to impress people and tell them I am a founder of a creative production business?
After much contemplations, I decided to use it as an introduction. Tell you about the two things I am most passionate about and what my main life mission is.

So I am asking you again — who are you? What do you do?

What is it that defines you?

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by 318,983+ people.

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