Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Identity - I am what I do

I decided to undertake this week of blogging about identity then promptly got a cold. I'm sorry that these posts are arriving late in the day, but congestion and sneezing has slowed me down.

*  *  *

Next time you go to a party, pay attention. At some point, someone will as you, "What do you do?" which means, "What's your job?"

I think the question, "What do you do?" is far broader than just your job, with greater implications for identity than simply the job we do to pay our bills, no matter how much we may love our work. An important component of identity is action - we are defined by what we do, we are remembered by the things we accomplish as well as by the more ethereal aspects of our personalities.

If I am what I do then a partial list might look like:
  • writer
  • storyteller
  • listener
  • cook
  • complainer
  • intermittent exerciser
  • reader
  • tv-watcher
  • meddler a.k.a. speaks up when she sees something she thinks is unjust
  • eavesdropper
  • etc
While aspects of my job are on this list, my job title is not.

I have choices about these definitions, which I embrace or ignore and which I choose to identify with. I'd rather be known as someone who acts when she sees a wrong than someone who watches too much tv. But I do both. I suspect it comes down to mindfulness: The actions I undertake more mindfully feed more into my own sense of identity. I think of myself more as a writer, storyteller, listener, cook and meddler than I do a tv-watcher and complainer. I am more mindful in the first set of actions. And I hope those actions are more memorable, though I suspect it's not always the case.

Of the things you do, what defines you? What things do you do less mindfully that you'd prefer are not part of your identity? How can you be more mindful about the parts of your identity through action you want to cultivate?

If what you do helps define who you are, keep that in mind in your next set of interactions with the world. Let your actions speak for you.

(c)2010 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

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