Occupation and identity

How to explain ERE, arranging family matters
Retiree
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Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:33 am

Re: Occupation and identity

Post by Retiree »

Thanks, Dragline. That post you linked to, on Careerism, was extremely insightful. Food for thought.

Jason, you appear not to have quite understood the question. Perhaps you did not see my second post. Also, why the bile? Bad day at work? Notwithstanding, thanks for responding.

Spartan_Warrior
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Re: Occupation and identity

Post by Spartan_Warrior »

Not much more I can add that Dragline and Jacob's post didn't summate. I'm lucky enough to have one overriding passion in life that also forms the bulk of my identity: storytelling. It ain't what pays the bills and probably never will be. Rather, it's the one thing I do that doesn't make me feel like I should be doing something else. I freely chose this identity and I will never be ashamed to state proudly when asked, "What do I do? I'm a writer." (Which is what I say even now, while still employed in a role more aptly titled "government drone".)

I think there's a lot of truth to "you are what you do". I just think "what you do" is a far larger category than the mundane activities entailed by paid employment. I would also mention, this may relate to the "fleeing from" versus "fleeing toward" distinction--e.g., do you seek early retirement merely to escape from a bad situation, or do you seek it so you can move toward a better situation/lifestyle? I agree that "not employed as X job title" is probably no healthier an identity than "employed as X job title". The ones with the most success and resilience for ERE seem to be those who are actively moving toward some goal or activity that does not conform with consumerist/careerist 9-5 culture.

Aus_E_Expat
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Re: Occupation and identity

Post by Aus_E_Expat »

Because we are so often identified with our occupation, it is probably one of the subconscious reasons I have not yet retired.

People naturally categorise you based on your occupation so I would be reluctant to say I am "retired".

I think when I finally get my head around working less (not stopping altogether) I will describe myself as a "consultant" or "on sabbatical".

Retiree
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Re: Occupation and identity

Post by Retiree »

Identity is never monotone. I believe one is the aggegate of many different identities (which too are, naturally, not quite static).

So one's identity is, at one and the same time, a composite of one's identity as regards (1) one's education choices ; (2) one's profession ; (3) one's family -- wife and kids ; (4) one's parental family and circumstance ; \5) one's religious and spiritual choices ; (6) one's beliefs and philosophy of life ; (7) one's food habits ; (8) one's financial condition ; (9) one's volunteer work ; (11) one's skin color ; (12) one's sexual orientation ; (13) one's health ; (14) and so on and so on and so on.

Thus one is NOT just what one does. What one does is just a subset of who one IS ; and one's profession is again just a subset of what one does. Thus one's profession is just a very very small part of who one is.

Of course, one can CHOOSE to inflate any one identity (or more than one identity), and it's okay ; but only if it's a free choice.

To be PUSHED into giving more importance to one identity is WRONG.

Thus it is as wrong to have to be defined as gay, or of African descent, or of aristocratic parentage, and so on, as to HAVE to be defined as a telecom worker or a sex worker or as any other kind of worker (or employer, or retiree).

In this forum I choose to take on the identity of "retiree" because here it is apt, and in any case that is my choice. Just as I may take on the identity of father at my son's school; or as teacher in my part-time teaching stint. But to have to take on that identity everywhere (or most places) even when one is not so inclined is not quite right, is it?

That everyone does it is no justification. Zeitgeist isn't everything. Color discrimantion, or gender discrimination, or social status discrimination, were all mainstream once : that did not make them right then.

Who is one exactly? Difficult question. Takes a lifetime to figure, and perhaps not even then. But just because it is difficult, the answer is not to take on the answer that the nearest thick-headed yob has assumed, just because that answer is ubiquitous.

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Stahlmann
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Re: Occupation and identity

Post by Stahlmann »

Hmm. Over here in non-competitive fields women starting writing "full time mom" as for their time. That's good. We can indulge in post-post-post modernism discussion why this is oppressive... but I think it's better to acknowledge the evident fact (I think truth in this case doesn't hurt anyone).

The problem is with the man. What can he put down in cv in case of jobs hoop between (supposedly...) longterm employment?

My ego would go with "on the pursuit of renaissance ideal". But in reality nobody cares.
Looking for something a bit smart, but not to so "outstanding". Being writer for humanities people sound good. Sclass story of NDA engineer is good too.

ertyu
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Re: Occupation and identity

Post by ertyu »

Good thread. Six years later, it’s become so much easier. So many people work online / from home that I’ve been saying to potential landlords I’m a translator and I work from a firm in the capital that sends me tasks online which I then upload into their proprietary system and no one bats an eye.

Now, I live in my hometown and it’s small. I can’t really lie to people closer to me because they know me and my history. But it would totally work if I moved to a different part of the country.

FruGal61
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Re: Occupation and identity

Post by FruGal61 »

Interesting topic. Here in the U.S. we become accustomed to being asked routinely "what do you do?" Which means, naturally "what do you do for work?" (how are you gainfully employed, where does your money come from).

After visiting France, the UK and other European countries I learned that it is considered rude to ask a stranger "what do you do?" as part of small talk. Yet here in the land of the free, we are continually asked this question and we feel entitled to ask others this question.

I personally never ask people what they "do". If it comes up organically in the conversation, then I might ask something to find out more about the person if they or someone else brought it up but I never put them on the spot and ask about their occupation, unless it comes up naturally. I think it's too invasive yet we Americans consider it normal. We also like to think we're better than other people, and overall, we like to win, be "on top" and one-up others at all costs.

Ah, so many memories in my storied life. So many times I had to defend my place in society. Yes, you have too. And I'm sorry about that. That time I showed up at a friend's yearly fun gathering last year. I had just arrived, greeted the hosts, took my coat off, and was looking around for a beverage. (Yes, if you must know, an adult beverage). Another guest (female, not that it matters but I'm female so it particularly irked me) immediately cornered me and starting asking me questions along the lines of "what do you do" and I'm thinking "Lady, this is a party, I don't want to talk about what I do for work, get the hell away from me!. I just want to shoot the bull, have a drink, eat hors d'ouevres, sing some songs and have a few laughs. Back away, please!" :lol:

A particularly miserable and dare I say jealous woman who is in a much more prestigious occupation than mine (she is a doctor) was once trying to glean more information about my occupation/job in the healthcare realm and I will never forget how she posed the question, with appropriate thinly veiled snark. Ready? Here it comes:

"FruGal, what is it exactly that you do? What is it that gets you out of bed in the morning?"

Ummm...coffee? Yes, coffee!!!

Yep. Here in these United States: I AM my job. I AM my car. I truly AM my home. I AM my living room sofa, preferably fine Italian leather. I AM the amount in my 401K. I AM what I eat, and it's all incredibly delicious, nutritious, organic and grown and prepared by me because I am not only a layabout renter only-the-finest-wine drinking whackaloon creative goofball but I'm am also a gifted gourmand, a foodie, a master CHEF! I EAT only the right stuff!

I am not a child of the universe, I am not a creature of God. I am a diligent worker bee and an enthusiastic, proper consumer with all the right stuff that is prominently displayed, in all the right paint colors. My Feng Shui is something to be envied! And I loved being owned by my employer! Yes, that is what I do. I am owned by my occupation, they make me get out of bed in the morning!!

Are ya happy NOW? :lol:

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Jean
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Re: Occupation and identity

Post by Jean »

I usually answer that I'm herding polymechanicians (which is my tenant's occupation).

Hristo Botev
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Re: Occupation and identity

Post by Hristo Botev »

Is "as little as I can" too cheezy a response to the question of "what do you do"?

FruGal61
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Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:06 am

Re: Occupation and identity

Post by FruGal61 »

No, that is a perfect response. Thank you!

FruGal61
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Re: Occupation and identity

Post by FruGal61 »

Jean wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 3:36 pm
I usually answer that I'm herding polymechanicians (which is my tenant's occupation).
That's an interesting occupation, one I have not heard of. I may have to steal a variation of this....

"What do you do?" I herd....yaks! That's it, yaks! I'm a yak herder. Perfect.

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Jean
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Location: Switzterland

Re: Occupation and identity

Post by Jean »

yak require much more work and are poor drinking mate. They can get pretty aggressive as well.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: Occupation and identity

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

I've turned the answer to this prevalent question into a game, most often asked at parties and gatherings with extended family. I usually joke that I'm a compulsive mountain biker and personal cook. If someone pressed the issue, I used to default to "selling robots that will likely replace your white collar job in the not too distant future".

Now that I don't actually have a job, I just say I'm finally cashing in on nearly 20 years of paying employment taxes.

Edited to add: I've never tied my identity to my work, even when it would have felt good to shove my high earnings in some nosey persons face.

ertyu
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Re: Occupation and identity

Post by ertyu »

imo the insistence of murica to ask your occupation during small talk really comes down to trying to figure out if you're worth networking with. murica is much more careerist and aggressive about climbing the corporate ladder. self-help books around networking are a common occurrence in the US, e.g. there was a famous best-seller one called "never eat alone" etc. i personally do prefer not making employment part of small talk, but having spent a long time in the US i often find myself defaulting to it just because i'm expected to "perform small talk" in social situations and that's the script i default to. "so what are you into?" might be a better one, but it can still put people on the spot. "do you have children" is a HELL NO, though as a single child-free person I don't find myself defaulting to it - though many married colleagues of mine have.

what's your guys' go-to small talk script?

Hristo Botev
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Re: Occupation and identity

Post by Hristo Botev »

ertyu wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 12:20 am
what's your guys' go-to small talk script?
Depends on the situation, but at a networking event 1 on 1 with someone I really don't know anything about, it's to ask about their connection to whatever organization is hosting the event, so something along the lines of "what brings you here." In a more social setting, it's the same question but it's "so how do you know [the host]". That's generally sufficient to get enough info from which I can find something out about the person I'm genuinely interested in asking them more about, which will carry a conversation for some time.

I also love it when people wear something really distinctive, that you know they wore because they are a pro at networking events and want to give people a jumping off point for conversations: "that bracelet (or whatever) is really something; I don't think I've ever seen anything like it before--there's got to be a story behind it, right". Of course, as a middle-aged man I have to be careful here; not a good idea to say something like: "so, am I to understand that mini skirts are back in fashion then"; or "wow, that shirt really didn't come with much material".

basuragomi
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Re: Occupation and identity

Post by basuragomi »

"Read any good books lately?" Then talk about anything you want until you hit a common interest. Replace books with shows depending on audience.

Dealing with people that can only talk about sportsball: ask them how their sport compares to other sportsball with respect to strategy/tactics/excitement/watchability/storylines. Then you can participate without knowing any particular players or match results.

I make it a rule to never ask anyone about work.

xmj
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Re: Occupation and identity

Post by xmj »

A few years ago, my goto reply to the "what do you do" line was "I clean ducks." It would usually lead to the following dialogue..

"What, really?"
"Yeah, have you ever seen a dirty duck?"
[ No, Yes, Laughs ]
"You see right there I'm damned good at what I do"

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