Thursday, October 13, 2011

Life defined by role and not by purpose: What do you do?

Since June 2011 I have dedicated my time to study Hungarian and learn more about the culture of my wife. During this time span I have met many people who in the country for the same reason: Love for a Hungarian. The issue is, we all know that we are just learning the language, and there is no job apart from going to school. We never ask each other what you do. We just ask about what we used to do or what we want to do in the future. Apparently, the fact that we don’t have a job means we are not doing anything at all. Still, there is a purpose in our current actions, which is more interesting than actually telling you that I work in finance doing reports that tend to be the same every month.

When you meet someone, just after they ask your name, you are commonly asked “what do you do?”, unless the person is not interested at all in you. Ask yourself, what do you do?

In my case, I used to answer at work at this company doing this job. What do I do? Is that all I have to say? Is that all we have to say? Suddenly, our life, what we do is not defined by the purpose of our actions, but only by them. I have met a lot of people in my life, from different countries, with different regions and backgrounds, and never I have heard an answer such as, I enjoy my life, I make my wife/girlfriend happy nor I live my dream.

We have family, children, friends and love among other things, still we always put the job title as the first thing we say. It’s a curious thing to do. The issue is that it comes automatically, somehow we have allowed the world to accept as a logical answer to what we do in life to be a profession.

The worst part, is that most of the times nobody really cares exactly what you do. Nobody wants to know if you are a financial analyst or a manager, a lawyer or a salesman, what they want to know is if you like it there. So there is indeed a desire to know the emotional side of what you do. Still I think it would lead to much better conversations if we simply answered with what we really are doing.

For example, im doing everything to make my wife happy, and while I’m learning a language, I’m doing it so one day my children can talk to me in the language of their mother’s family. Of course its not a job, nor a profession that would allow you to guess if I make money or not, but I think it shows much more of who I am. At the end that is what we want to know when we ask someone what they do, who are they? We want to fit in all the pieces in the puzzle until we have a picture of the person, so then we can decide that we like them or not, and then have them as a part of our life.

So next time we talk, why don’t we skip the professional side, which doesn’t really matter, and go directly to the moment in which we tell what is the real purpose of whatever we do right now, and of course if we are happy. Hopefully no one thinks I’m a crazy person the next time someone asks me what do you do, and I answer I make my wife happy and try to make the world a better place for my non existent children.

1 comment:

Alexandra Pallares said...

Well, considering we work around 2000 hrs a year, go to school/univ to obtain a degree that is going to get us to that one job we will love doing, and spend most time doing...I would say what you do pretty much says a lot of who you are. Of course not all of us are doing exactly what we dreamed of before undertaking college, but i believe we all strive to get as close as possible to our ideal occupation.