21 Mar


“So, what do you do?”

If you’re employed, the answer is easy. If you’re unemployed, it’s a little tricky, but you can usually get around it with, “I’m in transition” or “currently looking for opportunities”.

Sounds familiar? A little too familiar…

So, why do people ask “what do you do”? Does what you do define who you are?

It’s like we’ve scripted our conversations, and conditioned ourselves to believe that who we are is what we do professionally, or academically. I’m an accountant, lawyer, receptionist, student. But is that is that really WHO YOU ARE?

And the worst part is when you start believing that you are your role. Owning your role, is different from becoming your role. You are more than a title, a position, or job description.

I wanted to find that out for myself – so a few months ago, I decided to dissect a few of the positions that I held. I wrote on a sheet of paper “What I do, and Why I Love to Do It”. Below that, I listed all the positions that I held, professionally and voluntary. Under each position, I wrote down the aspects of the role which I enjoyed. Here’s the problem with that exercise – and I’m only realizing it now. In trying to dig deep and discover who I was, I had actually restricted myself to finding things I loved, within the roles I that I held. But did I even like those roles?

What I should have asked is, what have been the highlights of my life, and why? Finding out what I enjoyed first, and then using that information to find a role that’s right for me.

Have you ever done one of those career tests? The kind that asks you to rate yourself on an array of interests and competencies, and ultimately spits out a career that’s “right for you”. Try taking one of those without any bias. Without catering it to your current position or your so called “dream job”. It’s harder than it looks. Here’s why:

I think that one of our greatest fears in self discovery, is coming to the realization that we don’t belong in our position. It’s like this masterpiece that you’ve been working on, investing in, believing in, is finally nearing completion, and then you realize that the last piece doesn’t fit. And it sounds horrible… if you frame it that way. But look at it from another perspective. You’ve finally realized your calling. You know who you are. 

If you really want to enjoy what you do for the rest of your life, start with yourself. Reflect. What projects, tasks, memories light you up, make you smile, and get you excited? What is it about those memories? Take them apart.

I’d like to leave you with this. The next time you meet someone – try asking “what do you like to do?” instead of “what do you do?“. I’ll bet that you’ll have deeper conversation, and a better idea of the person behind the title, than just the title itself.

Don’t imprison yourself by defining yourself by your job, employment status. You are SO much more than that. So be that. Be you, and the rest will fall into place.

(Image by: http://www.smallbiztrends.com)


3 Responses to “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?”

  1. Fadia Saad March 21, 2013 at 9:32 pm #

    Well said Sabrina!

  2. Joey March 21, 2013 at 11:20 pm #

    i totally agree! i think it’s easier for people to define themselves with their job when they meet or bump into people, because we don’t share our real feelings or life stories in those kinds of passing conversations. i remember struggling to figure out my ‘spiel’ and feeling the need to justify why i was in transition etc… when i became a teacher i did see how easy it was to say ‘i’m an ESL teacher.’ no further explanation necessary. i had a real job. funny thing is, i wasn’t fulfilled by that job, so i stopped and am still exploring what i want to do. and it is a trickier story to tell and my future isn’t secure……but i wouldn’t trade that for being stuck in mediocrity. that’s because my biggest fear is settling for something less!

    • Sabrina Meherally March 21, 2013 at 11:25 pm #

      Love it! Thanks for sharing! I agree – the reward from risk is well worth the temporary insecurity. I’d rather take the time to find out what I love, and do that, than stick to the plan and settle for less 🙂

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