How we define ourselves

How-Do-You-Define-YourselfI was talking to a friend earlier today about “what defines us.”  I had recently done an exercise with a pie chart and the things that factor into our self esteem – both things that are uplifting and things that bring us down.  My pie chart depicted a lot of pieces, but one of the largest was “job.”

My therapist had made a comment to me recently that those of us who live in the Northeastern United States tend to heavily define ourselves by what we do for a living.  You’re at a cocktail party and someone you just met often says immediately, “So what do you do?”  Wouldn’t it be cool if people asked, “What’s your favorite novel?” or “What did you dream about last night?”  See, they’re arbitrary questions but you get to know someone a lot better that way.

I’ve been defining myself by my job for years.  Being unmarried and childless (note I said those things also with a negative connotation), I’ve relied on “what I do for a living” to define me.  But we’re more than our jobs.  We’re human beings with interests, passions, favorite novels.

But as I’ve written in recent posts, I left my job.  It’s been about a month, and although I received an offer recently, I did not take it so I can look for the right fit.  I’ve also expanded my pie chart so that the role of “job” is now smaller and less connected to my self esteem.  My pie chart emphasizes friends, family, my home, my passion for the arts, volunteering.

How do you define yourself?


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