This is such an L.A. question. I don’t know if it’s a question that gets asked everywhere but I know that when you go out in L.A. and you meet new people (also called strangers – how I do love that word) they ask, “What do you do?” It’s one of the first things I was asked by my new neighbors.
There are two issues here:
- Do you define yourself by your career?
- The problem of actually explaining what you do in a way that you are not instantly dismissed as not sufficiently useful or interesting
I don’t think I generally get dismissed. I think most people find the fact that I work in a medical field with a disease that is so misunderstood and feared as enough to want to know more. I’m happy to talk. I do define quite a bit of my identity through my career. I have been working “in HIV” for a good 18 years now. I have no interest in someday working in, say, the ALS field or for the American Heart Association but I have held a number of jobs “in HIV.”
Some people can say, “I am a paralegal.” or “I am an actress.” I cannot. This seems so nice and simple. People know what you do FOR A LIVING and you can just go on to say, "but in my other life, I'm an amazing chef!"
Currently, I am a research administrator. Which means absolutely nothing to anyone. And yet, it does.
It means I’m not an assistant, which somehow makes that person less interesting, as if, “Oh, that person types for a living and clearly has nothing else in her past or future that I might be interested in knowing about.”
It means I’m not a doctor, which somehow makes me less valuable than my officemate who is, in the eyes of those with letters after their names.
But honestly, what am I? Is my identity “Research Administrator”? I hope not. I am a lot of things. I suppose if you divided me up into some pies (I’d vote for apple, pumpkin and lemon merengue), I’d look like this.
Yeah, I'm a dork. Sue me.
Labels: New Year's Revolution