My managing director from work circulates inspiration quotations almost a daily basis. This one really resonated with me:
“Don’t ask kids what they want to be when they grow up but what problems do they want to solve. This changes the conversation from who do I want to work for, to what do I need to learn to be able to do that.” -Jaime Casap, Google Global Education Evangelist
What struck me with this saying is the notion that thinking in terms of action is a lot more effective than thinking about one’s identity. I’m kind of abstracting from the original quotation, but it does relate to my revelation that making claims about “who you are” or “where/what you will be” are meaningless without actions to support it.
You can say you are a “critical thinker” (as I was told by university), or that you are a nice person or you will be a marathon runner… but the truth is, none of these statements mean very much when you aren’t showing it.
When I realized I wanted a career in content writing, I made a list of skills that I needed in order to fulfill the job requirement. Stating that I have these skills wasn’t enough. I had to prove them with concrete examples. That’s how I landed my job.
I think labels and titles are generally redundant and have no practical benefit -they might even be a hindrance. What prevented me from seeing my vast career possibilities was the fact that I was a “philosophy major.” When anyone is stereotyped or labeled as something, they are limited by that definition. It blinds them and others from seeing their many possibilities and uniqueness.
So why do we have labels and titles anyways? Why do we categorize people? Does it really help us understand others? Perhaps it’s helpful from a statistical/marketing point of view. But when it comes to everyday utility, I feel that it is much more beneficial to think of oneself in terms of what one does and believes in (as beliefs guide our actions) rather than trying to define oneself.
I shall end this blog here before I go even more off tangent. 🙂
*Side note: I may sound like a hypocrite because I use “I am” a few times in my about section. I guess we also use labels as a convenient way to describe ourselves. But really, when I say “I am …” what I really mean is “I do this…” and my background is this.