Sunday, November 9, 2008

Self Definition

Have you ever been at a party or other type of social gathering where there were a lot of people introducing themselves for the first time? Isn't it amazing what you hear?

How do you introduce yourself to a new person? Do you say, your name an occupation? Most people in America do... and it's really sad to me. In a lot of ways we define ourselves by our jobs... and honestly - that isn't enough for me.

I'm not a database manager... I'm so much more than that. I'm a wife, a Christian, a daughter, a sister, a friend, an aunt, a cousin, a niece, a granddaughter, an Aggie, a weight loss surgery patient, a writer, a photographer, a scrapbooker... you see where I'm going? Now, I'm certainly not suggesting that you say all of that the next time you meet someone new... because that's really not what they're asking.

Depending on the setting - the answer might be different, but typically people are just looking for something that they can use to start a conversation... a jumping off point that would possibly create some common ground to keep the discussion moving forward. Otherwise - there is just awkward silence, and each of you looking for an excuse to get out of the weird situation.

For me - there is so much more to who I am than my job... and honestly - if I could find a way to win the lottery without actually spending any money to play... I'd quit working outside the home all together. I find that job to be much more rewarding and important than anything I can do outside in the "rat race."

I was never happier than when I was at home this summer taking care of the house for John, and having dinner ready for him each night when he returned from working... but this post isn't about that - right now our finances need both our incomes to sustain our lifestyle. The point of my post is that what I do outside the home does not define me...

In fact - it's such a small part of me that it's strange to think of how many hours are spent doing that very job. I spend 8 hours a day working, and don't get me wrong - I give it everything I have for those 8 hours... but again - it's not my main focus, not my main passion... it just is what it is - a means to be able to afford the other things in my life that I love.

Some people call that "just a job" - but I was raised with a higher standard of work ethic than that - so I take pride in the quality of the work I produce, and in the fact that they can depend on me - but at the same time - I pride myself on the fact that my friends, family, small group and church can depend on me as well.

Sometimes it does seem to be too much, but God always provides a weekend off just when I need it...

How do you define yourself?


  1. This is a very intersting question, Kim! I NEVER offer my occupation as a means for defining myself when I introduce myself to people.

    I once had a boss who introduced me to people as "the mommy to all our students" and I HATED that. I seriously had a sit-down with her to explain that I find that introduction incredibly troublesome, not that I undervalue motherhood, but that I'm a professional with professional duties... not a nurturer. It makes me mad even thinking about it.

    And whenever people meet Lee and I together, they are always DYING to know what Lee does for a living so they can begin to classify him as either "one of them" or not. It's disturbing.

    And most recently, I define myself as a PhD student, but I NEVER offer that information to people during introductions because it never goes over well... they either see me as an intellectual snob (I'm SO not!) or they start apologizing for their lack of degrees or whatever.

    So when I introduce myself, I say as little as possible about the roles I play at work and school because I don't like the assumptions people make about either.


  2. I have never thought of my job as part of my definition. In fact, on my myspace page, it asks that question and "church secretary" is not one of my answers.
    My answer goes more like this: I am a christian, a wife, a mother, a friend, a parttime knitter, a wannabe writer, a singer, a lover of nature, wildlife and the sea, a cat fanatic, a reader. And that is just for starters ;)

  3. Great question Kim,
    You know I never really introduce myself and include my job. It would take to long to say, mom, wife, christian, chef, peacekeeper, maid, dog trainer, dog poop picker upper,teacher,reader,writer and so on. I believe that those things are things that they should get to know. Not things I should offer at first meeting them. Next time I introduce myself I think I ll say "Hi I am Tasha, Lover of life"

  4. I typically don't define myself...I am a veritable bouillabaisse of humanity...I have always been very conscious of being cast in a certain box. I detest stereotypes and I don't think that I am one dimentional enough to be defined by any one title...I am sure my life would be much less complicated if I was but the reality is that I am not. I am who I am with the bumps and scrapes to prove it. I am not defined by my job, I never have been and I hope I never will be. How the world defines me I can't control, I can only hope that I provide enough material to make it difficult for them to cast me in any one light!


Thank you so much for your comments. I really enjoy getting feedback on my writing!