|Maze by James Jean|
If we didn't have to work then most of us would probably choose not to. But it's a necessary part of life, and I do respect the process of it all. I mean, if you didn't have to work for things then you probably wouldn't appreciate the results as much. For example, do you think that a high school kid that worked hard to buy a car, or a kid that was given a car from their parents will take better care of their vehicle? My guess is the kid that worked for it will appreciate the sacrifice that went into it.
While I see nothing wrong with work itself, I do see a problem with how society perceives people because of their work.
"What do you do?"
It's a pretty common question when you are just meeting someone for the first time, and almost every time the answer will be related to that person's job. But it's such an open ended question - so why do we always respond with what we do for work? Well... Because society has imprinted within us the need to define ourselves by our jobs.
"I'm a veterinarian." For many people that conjures the idea that this person is a caring, compassionate person.
"I'm a landlord." - Oh you must be the scum sucking, money grubbing, grime of the earth.
"I'm an software engineer." - Sweet! Can you fix my computer?
As soon as someone states their profession most people immediately make some sort of judgments about that person, either good or bad. I know I do. If someone tells me that they are a nanny then I immediately think that they must be a very patient person to be able to work with children all day.
But why do we let our professions define us? Some people go into careers that they are passionate about and that's great. But many people just end up doing what they are good at, even if it isn't something that they weren't truly passionate about in the first place. I first got into my profession because I liked the idea of robots and artificial intelligence (I wanted a robot army), but once I took classes on them and discovered it wasn't what I wanted to do. I realized I was already deep into my major at college and nothing transferred so I just stuck with it since I didn't know what else I wanted to do. Now I'm a software engineer and while I'm not passionate about my job, I do find aspects of it that I do enjoy from time to time. I like the puzzles of finally making bits of code work as expected or the flexibility that my job provides. But this doesn't define me at all, this is just learning to appreciate what I ended up doing.
What's wrong with this question?Besides for being a quick way to stereotype a person into certain characteristics, there's something else that seems intrusive to this question. You might not be asking it flat out but if you know what someone does for a living then you get glimpses at answers to other questions such as, how much money do you make? How educated are you? Where do I stand compared to you in socioeconomic status? Are you rich? Will you be one day?
These are all things that most people think are rude to ask. Some couples don't even ask their partners these questions until after they are married because they are such taboo topics. So why do we ask the first probing question to begin with? My guess is that people ask because it is giving us glances into all of those socially unacceptable questions while still seeming like a perfectly innocent question. And the only reason this question has any significance is because we let work dictate our lives. Most people spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week at their jobs, and that doesn't count all the time getting ready for and travelling to and from work. Most days we spend more waking hours revolving around work than we do on anything else.
To me the problem is the answer, why do we focus so much on work? Society has us so focused on job titles that make us want to sound important, to impress people we haven't even met yet, that we forget that our jobs weren't really even our passion in the first place.
I know that my job certainly does not define me. I'm a traveler, an animal lover, a weirdo, an artist with attachment issues, and so many other things before I get to my job.
To me, my job is simply a place that I go to trade my time and services for money, it does not define me at all. I actually despise conversations that revolve around computer languages, coding or anyone that mentions an "app" they want to build.
And by the way, no I can't fix your computer, I still don't really know how to operate a smart phone. But I can write accounting software or even build you a clinical trial for your new pharmaceutical drug if you needed it.