There were lots of ooh-aahs as people shed light on their little-known achievements and talents at our recent choir retreat, even though some of us have been singing together for three or more years.
“I didn’t know that about you!”
If we asked that question more often, we’d learn so much more about each other beyond just our jobs or interest groups.
Notice how we always ask this question first when meeting new people?
“Oh, I’m just a ... (fill in the blank),” we respond, by way of apology.
So we start to label each other according to our predefined concepts: accountants in this little box; New Age weirdo over in that box.
“Oh, you’re a bank manager?”
Okay, ‘fess up: what’s the first impression that came to mind when you read that last sentence?
Oh, a writer, eh? Copy writer? This way, please. Technical writer? Over in that box, thanks. Author? Published or not published?
And so on, adding further labels according to cultural, gender and religious beliefs.
I’m not one for labels and hate being boxed in by other people’s definitions of what I am, what I do or don’t do. This attitude has always frustrated my parents, because I’ve never fit into their predetermined labels of me. I’m sure some of my past friends also felt the same way.
I’m more than just a writer
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” – Aristotle.
I’m reluctant to define myself by my occupation these days. One word doesn’t adequately describe what - or who - I am.
I’ve noticed, though, that people get bamboozled when I respond with: “Well, I’m a jack of all trades, really: journalist, writer, blogger, Toastmaster, choir member, although I’ve also been a tour guide, English language teacher, babysitter, traveler, customer service team leader, training consultant…”
Yawn. It kind of kills the conversation. And besides, people might think I’ve got multiple personalities, each one clamoring for attention.
“Really, people think that?”
“No way, just ignore them.”
“Shhh, they might hear us.”
“Who cares what other people think?”
Err, sorry about that. Those multiple personalities are rather opinionated and outspoken.
However, all these different jobs, skills and personalities contribute to the whole picture; each one is like a piece of the Hari jigsaw puzzle, so I’m more than just a writer or Toastmaster or babysitter. I’m all of these things.
Heck, I wear so many hats at times, even I get confused. Hence the identity crisis – I just don’t know what I am any more.
Who are you really?
I now know many Toastmasters across Queensland and northern NSW. I can tell you their educational rank and achievements, but unfortunately know little about their lives outside of Toastmasters.
We always talk shop at club meetings and area conferences.
Unless someone presents a prepared speech about their hobbies or life achievements, we don’t seem to ask each other these probing questions:
- What have you learnt in life?
- What inspires you?
- What’s made you the person you are today?
“Oh, that? It’s no big deal.”
So who are you, beyond what you do? Go on; tell me something new about yourself that I don’t already know.