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Who Are You?

Who are you? No, I’m not asking what you’re paid to do. I don’t mean your attitude, nor do I want to know your political views. What I’m asking you is, what is it that makes you, unequivocally you, through and through.

If someone were to ask you who you are right now, what would you say? When you first meet someone, what are some of the first things that you tell them about yourself? Usually, introducing ourselves involves answering 3 questions:

  • “What’s your name?”
  • “How are you?”
  • “What do you do?”

Now let me ask you, when you tell people what you do, what exactly is it that you’re referring to? I’m willing to bet that you answer that question with whatever it is that you do to pay the bills. We identify closely with our jobs. My name is __________. I’m doing well (hopefully). I am a ____________.

It makes sense that we identify closely with our paying jobs. Full time workers spend 40 hours a week at their jobs, and that’s a lot of time!

Generally, it seems that we talk about who we are in regards to what it is that we do, what it is that we believe, and our likes/dislikes. I’d like to take a closer look at that first one, at how we identify with what we do.

What we Do vs What We’re Paid For

I wonder, what sort of a mental effect might there be when identifying with a job that we hate. Working at Goodwill, I hardly ever said “I’m a cashier.” Instead, if people asked what I did, I would tell them that I worked at Goodwill. Maybe it’s because, at that point, I’d only ever worked part-time so I didn’t really identify with my job because I was hardly ever there, though I’m not sure.

Even after earning a degree in art, I’ve never felt comfortable calling myself an artist. I’d never wanted to be an artist. A pastry chef, a librarian, an astrophysicist, a paleontologist, sure, but never an artist. It was only after my first experience with oil paints that I decided I might be able to be a painter.

self portrait, 2017

I like my job as a security professional. But I still don’t tell people “I’m a security guard.” Instead, I say that I’m a writer.

But…. I don’t make money from writing. At least in America, we don’t tell people that we’re xy or z unless we make money that way. And honestly? I think that’s so ridiculous! In fact, I think that not making money from writing is all the more reason to consider myself a writer.


I’m not a writer because somebody pays me to write. I’m a writer because I wake up every morning thinking of what to write about, because I go to sleep every night thinking of things to write about, and I spend my time in-between then writing. Not for the money. Certainly not for fame. Just because there’s something or another in me that wants to write.

Who Are You?

I still don’t know how to answer this question. Am I more than the sum of all of my beliefs, likes/dislikes, and actions? Or am I less than that, and maybe less is more? What about other people, who are they beyond all of that stuff?

And that’s the interesting thing. I’m not so sure that it matters who we are without our beliefs, desires, and actions. It’s impossible to separate ourselves from those things, which tells me that they must be tied to who we are in some way or another, right?

But I’m still not sold on the idea that we have to identify with our jobs. Jobs are hardly ever in line with a person’s real desires and passions. Jobs are a means to an end, a way to get a paycheck, a necessary thing to avoid houselessness and starvation. While knowing a person’s occupation can tell us what skills they have, and what sort of environments they’re willing and able to tolerate, I believe that identifying with a job can be detrimental to our sense of self when that job doesn’t align with who we are at the core of our being.

How do you introduce yourself? Is that introduction a true reflection of who you are? The words that we speak have power, so it’s important to talk about ourselves in ways that reflect who we feel that we’re meant to be!

Introduce yourself in the comments as the person that you’re becoming vs how you would introduce yourself as an employee!

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