I’ve been watching quite a lot of Big Bang Theory lately. My usual style once I find I show I love is to watch it a LOT, which is exactly what I’ve been doing. Coming in so late means lots to catch up on – yay!
While watching a thought came to me. These guys very identity is completely wrapped up in what they do. Sheldon is entirely horrified when his sister mentions telling her friends he’s a rocket scientist ‘how humiliating.” Several times during the season there are put downs to each other for not being in the right field. Penny, of course, is the big loser being only a waitress.
Have you noticed when you meet someone one of the first things you ask is what they do? A friend told me recently about her new boyfriend and naturally one of my first questions was “what does he do?” We like nice neat little boxes to put people in so we can identify what we are dealing with and quite often if we feel our box doesn’t make us sound important enough we embellish. Some people are determined to have the right title and as a result “Manager” means nothing any more.
Of course the problem with this is that people often aren’t what they do. Often they have ended up doing whatever it is by chance and if they could do anything that wouldn’t be it. Or there are elements they like – ie good money, flexible hours etc that keeps them doing it because it’s a better option that a lot of other things but still not their dream job. Or there is the reality that dream jobs still end up being jobs.
We could ask what they really wanted to do? Ask my 3yo niece and she’ll tell you she’s going to take me to the moon in her very own rocket ship. I tell you, I am really looking forward to it!
So what are our options? Choose other ways to quantify people when we meet them? By their marital status? By their parental status? Again these are limited views and (hopefully) no one only wants to be known as the parent of someone else.
We can talk about interests of course, find common ground. Depending on the kind of first meeting this is – attempted pickup vs a potential new friend vs a friends new boyfriend, you are going to ask different things. But do these really tell us who people are? Sure they tell us parts of who they are but everyone is complex and most of us don’t want to spend time really understanding every person we meet.
I’m not sure there is a good answer here. What people do is a good starting point. Maybe we can ask them if they like what they do so they have the option to take a foot out of the box.
So, what did you really want to do when you grew up?