Define your work – Don’t let it define you

Before I moved to Korea, my opinion of work was pretty high. Or, I should say, my opinion of the concept of work – occupation – was pretty high.

I had the idea that what you do is who you are. And if you’re doing a run-of-the-mill job, you’re probably a run-of-the-mill person. Or, actually, I didn’t really care about you. I just thought that’s how it worked for me.

If I was doing a run-of-the-mill job, then I must be a run-of-the-mill person. I conflated occupation and identity, so I was scared to get trapped in that kind of situation.

I’ve changed my mind. Or, I should say, I’m changing my mind. My work in Korea is, by definition, temporary. I have a contract for a year. I can stay longer if I like, but all bets are off after a year.

Before Korea, I assumed that jobs were more permenant. I mean, I knew I’d probably scramble through a bunch of different positions, but I figured the direction was more permenant, that if I was moving in a certain direction careerwise, then I’d always end up going in that direction.

More importantly, I thought that direction would become part of who I am, when in fact, it doesn’t have to.

Thing is, telling you this probably won’t change your mind about it if you currently think the way I used to. People told me what I’m telling you, but I didn’t get it.

Instead of trying to change your mind, which rarely works directly, I’d suggest just trying on a temp position for a while. Feel what it’s like to do something full-time that isn’t permanent.

Maybe you’ll switch the way I did. Maybe not. The outcome doesn’t matter so much as the experiment, the experience of the experiment.