What would it be like if we didn’t tell people what we did for a living, if we weren’t allowed to wear that costume? You might be thinking “what does she mean by costume”? Well I mean literally that- something you use to cover yourself up so that people only see that part of you.
I’d like to purpose that we stop using our jobs as social crutches. Stop being defined by the status that is provided to you by your job and how much you seemingly have accomplished based on that said job.
What if we valued people for more than that? What if we just stopped asking people what their job is and asked them more about who they really are? What if we asked people more about what they think or how they feel about certain societal issues? Or even what they are finding enjoyable in their life, today.
Or what if we stopped allowing people to lead conversations by telling others what they do for a living. Stopped letting people see themselves as what they do rather than who they are. Yes, for some people that is the same thing. Some people feel that their job is an extension of who they are. Or maybe it’s the reverse- they are an extension of their job- they just can’t turn it off. Or so they say.
As if some jobs hold more value than others. Really if you think about it, in society we need all the people with all the jobs. We need plumbers and doctors. We need engineers and grocery clerks. We need farmers and teachers. Status gets in the way of truth, of real value. Status causes us to think that our identity lies in what we do for a living. Some people use their careers to mask and disguise themselves, so they don’t really need to engage in meaningful relationships. And even for some people, their job becomes more important than relationships in their life. Maybe that’s the goal though…
Don’t get me wrong, I think it is very valuable to share knowledge about a specific area that you are versed in but only when its relevant to the conversation. It’s important that we share our knowledge with other people. However, when is the last time you had a real conversation with someone who had knowledge different then you and it felt like a genuine conversation? Again, it is too common for people to use their careers as a crutch or even an opportunity to boast.
A person is a collection of their experiences and from their experiences they make or don’t make certain choices. We each have the opportunity to become more or less in touch with who we really are. We each have the option to be vulnerable and self-aware or to disguise ourselves and hide.
Easier- is it easier to maintain superficial, surface level relationships? Does that make life easier? I wonder what clutter you could get rid of if you chose to engage only in meaningful conversations, you know- talking about stuff that matters, stuff of substance and took the time to value people for who they are, aside from what they “do”.
So, sort of related, bear with me- shortly after we had our third baby I was talking about postpartum stuff with a friend- if you know me then you know that’s an interest of mine- birth and postpartum and child raising. Anywho… we were talking about how minimized and dismissed postpartum mental health issues are or really just the general needs of a woman/family who just had a baby. She said to me that most people don’t ask the mom how she is doing because they wouldn’t know what to do to help anyway. But is that true? Do we not know how to help each other, or do we not want to? It is easier to say, “I didn’t know what to do”?
Ill apply this because it seems to be the conclusion that surface topics like someone’s career are easier. People like easy. But because of this there are too many disconnected and confused individuals. People who need connection and belonging but hide behind their careers or hide behind the idea that they don’t know what to do to help another person. We need to be brave. We need to be willing to say, “I see you”. And we also need to be brave enough to allow ourselves to be seen.
In today’s society we are exposing ourselves through social media outlets. Social media has gotten a bad rep. Texting gets a bad rep too. For some reason there’s this idea out there that people don’t know how to communicate anymore. But the truth is that people have always struggled to communicate. Social media isn’t making it worse, just different. Texting isn’t (always) blocking people from engaging. For some people it provides the opportunity to say things that wouldn’t otherwise be said. To initiate conversations that would be avoided.
People struggle relationally. Blaming texting and social media is just another way to dodge responsibility for engaging with others. Its just another way to claim that people can’t communicate rather then using it to your benefit and communicating through what’s available to you. You have the option to engage and you have the option to avoid relationship. To mask yourself behind social media or to expose yourself, to be vulnerable, to share your thoughts and ideas. To use the formats available to you to bridge the gaps in relationships.
Be brave, be courageous and most of all be kind and loving, with yourself.