Just over a year ago, I did the big thing you hear about from your parents and your teachers and just about every adult for most of your young life—I graduated college. Growing up, my parents put a very big emphasis on getting a good education—and a college degree was always a part of that plan. But we’re not here to talk about whether or not college is a life/success/happiness necessity. I want to focus more on the superiority after-effect college leaves you with.
I thought that if I went to college, got good marks, maybe made a connection or two that I would be set for life. I would leave with a good job already in the bag and ready to officially start my adult life. But that’s not exactly what happened. Instead, I moved back to my hometown, continued working at my high school part-time job, and struggled to find a writing job I was passionate about that wanted to take a chance on me. I became really discouraged in not just my working abilities, but I also started losing value in myself.
Here’s the thing—when I think about the kind of person I am and the kind of person I want to be, a lot of the words I use to describe myself have to do with what I do or want to do for a living. Example—if someone were to ask me, “tell me about yourself,” I might respond by saying that I was writer living in Oklahoma, but looking to relocate elsewhere. I might say that I also teach and take care of children, that I don’t know how to cook, and that I enjoy planning parties, events, lists, you name it. My answers aren’t wrong; my work history and my hobbies are a big part of what makes me, well, me. But if the only things I can think of to describe who I am as a person all relate to some type of work or accomplishment, isn’t that a bit of a problem?
And this mindset is exactly where I lived for almost a year after my college graduation. We, as a society, tend to label our importance based off of the number on our paycheck. The better we look on paper, the better we are in person. I mean, that’s exactly what job hunting tells us, right?
There are advantages to being a well-rounded person and you should never be ashamed of your skills in the things that you create, but you should also never belittle yourself if you feel like you’re not producing enough. Because that has no merit on who you are as a person. It doesn’t determine how much you love your dog, that you’re afraid of the dark, or that you can’t take care of plants to save your live.
I write all of this at the sake of being one of those soapbox writers, but I do wish I had somebody to tell me all of this. It’s still something I have to consciously put into practice—knowing that it’s okay to take a break from writing or that it’s okay to have a day just full of hobbies and fun times with no responsibilities looming over my head. And I hope knowing that there’s a difference between what you do and who you are will help ease your anxieties and allow you to focus on just being happy with yourself.
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How does thinking about what you do affect your outlook on who you are as a person? Do you sometimes find yourself struggling to recognize the difference? Share your stories and tips with me in the comments section down below.
I’m sure many of you who follow the blog have been getting updates about various new posts premiering here. These are all the backlogged posts from earlier this month. They’ll be dated for when they were originally supposed to be published, which might make them hard to find on The Latest, but make sure to give them a read when you have the chance! And look out for a couple more backlogged posts being uploaded within the next few days as well.
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2 thoughts on “I Do vs. I Am”
I collect hobbies, so I’m probably seen as wishy-washy, but I don’t care so much about how it affects my outlook. Have spent six years as a hairdresser, a short time as an auditor, and now eight years in the writing industry. I say live life each day as they come.
Thanks for sharing this, Sam!
It’s amazing that you’ve got a lot of varied experience under your belt! And I’m sure each piece is an important part of who you are. Thanks for sharing!