What You Do Is Not Who You Are

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Brooke Cagle / Unsplash

“What do you do?”. This question used to make me cringe, along with writing my LinkedIn and Instagram bios (which I use to change monthly).

I am an MBA student, who left the finance world to pursue a career in acting, who teaches dance fitness classes, and is writing her first self-help book… Uhm, yea… society doesn’t know what box to place me in. So, it is normal that when I get asked “what do you do?” I stuff my face with cocktail peanuts and awkwardly walk away.

At the time, I was ashamed about all that I was aspiring to be but wasn’t yet. I knew this insecurity needed to shift if I was to pursue my dreams with authenticity and heart.

One day, I realized how shallow I was conditioned to think, and then it hit me:

Who I am should never be narrowed down by others to what I do for a living.

While reflecting, I thought about how people are described once they pass away, when they are stripped from the limits of societal beliefs and their true characters come to light. Most tombstones, for example, have the words, “loving father” or “loving mother” engraved on them. This is how their loved ones want the world to remember them by. I don’t ever recall seeing a tombstone stating, “she was a successful entrepreneur”, “he was a successful lawyer”. Why? Because, when it all comes down to it, what we did in this lifetime doesn’t matter. What matters is the person we were (loving, adventurous, courageous, compassionate, funny, lighthearted, etc.).

This strange observation allowed me to see through a different lens:

What we do is only part of our lives, it can never categorize us as human beings.

This realization was all I needed to come back to self-acceptance and self-compassion. So what if I’m not where I want to be at yet? At least I wake up every morning being authentic to my dreams while pursuing a life of dignity, creativity, and above all, compassion.

We are rich and complex. We are human beings seeking for internal peace, love, and happiness. What defines us as a person are our virtues, morals, our compassion towards others, and our ability to fight towards the things we love.

Don’t let society make you think otherwise.

Let your virtues and morals shine through. Stop hiding behind your degree and career. Make sure you voice your feelings and always follow your gut in making decisions. It is the voice within that defines you. And following it, will lead you to your higher purpose.

Today, when I get asked to write about myself or to state who I am or what I do, I simply respond:

“A Human with a compassionate heart, spreading courage and love.” TC mark

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