Made from a box (hopefully not)

[Note #1: I almost didn’t write this because I feel like it might come across as a whiny kid who feels sorry for himself. I’m writing it anyway, though, because it keeps nagging at me. And I think even in 50 years I’ll feel the same way, even after I have no job because I’ve already been there and done that.]

As I said yesterday, I don’t like fitting into perfect boxes. I don’t think anyone really does, but most are willing to sacrifice the box life for security (but that’s a topic for a different post).

Jobs are boxes, especially for the male side of the population. Our job is a category in people’s minds.

For example…

  • If I’m a plumber, I go in the plumber box, even if I – the real me – don’t fit in it.
  • If I’m a musician, I go in the musician box, even if I – the real me – don’t fit in it.
  • If I’m a telemarketer, I go in the telemarketer box, even if I – the real me – don’t fit in it.

You know what I mean. I have nothing against those boxes themselves. I understand that stereotypes are good – our minds have to categorize.

But I do have a problem with that box, that stereotype, coming first and defining who I am instead of who I am choosing that box.

In other words, I don’t want to stereotype myself in my own mind based on what I do. I don’t ever want to think, Well, I’m a plumber (or musician or telemarketer), so I’m going to fit that stereotype.

Rather, I want what I do to flow from who I am and who I want to become. I want to think, Well, this is who I am, and it aligns with what a plumber (or musician or telemarketer) does, so I’m going to do that.

Or let me put it into a question for you:

Are you defined by your work, or is your work defined by you?

I want the latter.

Yeah, it’s one of those crazy, Philosophy major type ideals, but when it comes down to it at the end of my life, that’s all I’ll really care about. Otherwise, I – the real me – is just some plumber (or musician or telemarketer) made from a box.

[Note #2: After writing this, I realized it’s similar to something I considered back in November. I asked, “Are you your mind?” In a different way, this posts asks something similar: “Are you your job?” Well, are you?]