Whenever we’re asked to introduce ourselves, especially at social events, we instinctively use our professions or job titles to define who we are. We hide behind the suit of armor, which becomes our facade.
We often equate our identity to what we do to pay our bills or the few letters before or after our names.
I hadn’t thought about how I would typically introduce myself until a friend recently mentioned that she doesn’t have that “thing” to describe who she is besides her job title, which honestly isn’t as straightforward either.
If you remember, when we were younger, we dream of becoming something a little unrealistic, possibly simpler, or maybe a bit grand when we’re asked what we want to be when we grow up.
Some would say they want to be a pirate, an astronaut, a truck driver, a teacher, a carpenter, a firefighter, and many more.
Then somewhere along the way, we neglected the innocent child inside us, and we chose to be “adults” and realists. So, we settled for a more “practical career” set by the prior generation.
Who are we if we remove our suit of armor?
In the first Avengers movie, Tony Stark and Captain America had banter. Cap asked Tony that if he removed his suit of armor, what would he be, to which Tony jokingly replied, “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.”
That may sound funny, but that is a valid question. What will be left if we remove our titles, licenses, or other fancy job descriptions? How will we introduce ourselves? Which part of us will be left behind our carefully curated facades?
Many of us think of our titles as who we are, but I believe underneath the cushion of our jobs and degrees is a childhood dream hoping to be revived again.
The importance of trying different things.
When I was still starting in the corporate world, I wanted to have something that would be my “thing”, a hook, a suit of armor of some sort. I wanted to have something people would immediately associate me with whenever it came up. This became my first quest for a suit of armor.
That idea was mainly influenced by Chandler Bing from FRIENDS in an episode when he said he would be a “Crazy Snake Man.” It’s sad, I know, but often, we also want to have that hook.
Think about it, what will be your “thing” that others will immediately recognize as soon as it is mentioned?
Practice introducing yourself besides your day job.
Another lesson I learned from the sitcom FRIENDS is how Joey Tribbiani introduces himself as someone he wants to be.
Though he is in substance, an actor, he struggled to earn enough and had to take on multiple odd jobs to survive. But at the end of the day, he knows he is an actor, and that is how he introduces himself.
To have a “thing,” we must try various things while disregarding those that didn’t spark our interest. During that time, I tried long-distance running, personal finance and investing, writing, teaching, and many more, many of which I still enjoy.
Even before I became a full-time freelance writer and was still a full-time college faculty, I already saw myself as a writer, so I introduced myself as one.
Not to disregard any accomplishment.
I asked this question not to disregard or belittle other people’s hard-earned accomplishments. I am just curious because some of us put the people with titles on a pedestal while looking down on people with none.
However, I realized these letters and titles are not as important as I initially thought, and are just a facade, a suit of armor. I even initially believed honorifics are needed to obtain prestige and respect.
Then as I immersed myself, I learned to gauge a person not by their titles but by how they treat others, giving the highest regard to the one who is humble, kind, graceful in conflict, and full of integrity.
How I see myself now.
When I try to introspect and look at myself without the facade of honorifics, titles, and added letters, I hope to be someone who emulates Jesus.
I just happened to be a writer, runner, educator, stock trader, investor, engineer, and continuous learner.
When we remove our suit of armor, look at ourselves in the mirror, we can see the reflection of who we are. We are more than our jobs. We are more than our titles. We are humans, and as humans, we have hopes, dreams, and aspirations.
Hopefully, one day, we will grow and develop to become someone more capable than just being a cog in the wheel while taking a monthly salary until the day we retire.
Break the wheel, break the cycle, escape the rat race. God bless!
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