Do You Define Yourself by Your Career?

Do you define yourself by your career? You might but may not even know you’re doing it.

Yesterday I found this article on Careerealism’s site about how we as a society tend to define each other and ourselves by our careers. That’s how most of us measure success and it’s usually the first question we ask a new acquaintance: “What do you do?” Currently being unemployed I couldn’t agree with this more, but that doesn’t mean I think it’s right.

Those 4 little words sure bring me back to my first time being unemployed. After doing a 4-month contract job after graduating university, I couldn’t find full-time employment for 8 straight months. I remember that period in my life as if it was yesterday, mainly because it was not a fun 8 months!

During that time the question I dreaded the most when I went out was “So, what are you up to?” It never meant what hobbies was I trying out or what was I doing for fun lately, it always meant what was I doing for work. Because I always knew it was coming, I either tried to change the subject or would say something like “Oh you know, still looking for work, but I know something will happen soon.”

Eventually I did get a job, and for the next 3 years I took pride in always having a satisfactory answer. Looking back, I realize that when I was at my old job, I really did start to define myself and my life by my job. Sure, I did spend most of my time there and I loved what I did, but I know I am so much more than what I do for work.

I have hobbies, I have interests, I have stories, I have dreams, but the sad thing is it’s rare when anyone ever asks me about them, and it’s just as rare when I ask my co-workers, friends, or family about theirs. The first subject to start off a conversation is almost 99% about how work is going. Careers are important and do take up a big chunk of our lives, but I think we as a society need to get out of this bubble and start to look at the bigger picture.

You know that quote “No one ever said on their deathbed: ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office’”? Well, it’s true! At the end of our lives, I doubt we’ll look back and wish we worked more or made work our number one priority in life. We’re going to look back fondly on the memories we make, the experiences we had, and the people we shared our time with.

Since I’m sort of on this new journey of self-discovery, I for one am going to try and stop defining myself by my career and start defining myself by everything else. Well…that is unless I got a dream job at Google then all bets are off!

Do you define yourself by your career? If not, how do you define yourself?

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