Pull Off The Labels

by Lance Ekum on · 58 comments

Today I have a special guest with us.  Please help me welcome Nadia Ballas-Ruta, writer  from the Happy Lotus.  I’ve just recently had the opportunity to connect with Nadia, and read some of her amazing writing.  Nadia is a very passionate writer, and I think you’ll feel that in the words below, in what she has to say.  One of her recent articles, 604,800 Amazing Options, takes a look at the time each of us have, and examines how we’re using that.

Nadia has a gift for writing and connecting with others.  Get regular updates by visiting her very wonderful and uplifting site, Happy Lotus.

Have a chair, and enjoy…

Pull Off The Labels


TodaysArt 2005 - Nederlands Dans Theater
Creative Commons License photo credit: Haags Uitburo

We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others that in the end we become disguised to ourselves.  ~François Duc de La Rochefoucauld

One of the questions that I really do not like being asked is: what do you do? I do whatever I can to avoid the topic whenever I meet someone. No matter how hard I try, the question inevitably comes up.

For those of you who do not know what I do for my day job, I am a lawyer. Now the funny thing is that when people hear that, the next statement always comes “you do not seem like a lawyer”. I laugh each time I hear that because it seems to be the general consensus when meeting me.

I am very laid back to the point that people think I have no ambition. I have ambition, I am just not too vocal about it. I place more value on doing than on talking about doing. The reason being that if something does not work out, I do not have to deal with the concern of being perceived a failure. Personally, I do not believe in the concept of failure but many do. Sometimes you actually learn more from situations that do not turn out the way you planned. Society calls such things mistakes or failures. In my mind, it is only a mistake or failure if you do not
learn from it.

I see the positive in any situation which people think means that I am flaky. Bring in the fact that I am a vegan and have the spiritual journey background and I can understand that these traits do not seem lawyerly. As one friend said to me: “I could see you more easily in one of those holistic healing places than at a law firm”.

So this leads to the question which no one ever asks which is: why did you become a lawyer? I went into law because I wanted to be more able to help people. Many people are unaware of their rights and I wanted to help them become aware.

I have never regretted the decision. Going to law school changed my life in so many ways. It helped me to learn more about human psychology and the mind. I stuck out in law school because I wanted more out of life and it was in law school where my spiritual journey began in earnest. When I graduated, I vowed to myself I would never work as a lawyer. Goes to show you…never say never.

Back in 2007, I realized that the time had come to venture back into law. I was in one of those situations where my inner voice was clear and it encouraged me to go back to law. I was not very thrilled at the idea but my inner voice kept insisting on it. So off I went back to take the bar exam and the whole process of finding a job. If I stuck out back in law school, you should see me now!

On a day to day basis, I work with good people who I cannot relate to because we look at life differently – to me, life is awesome. The mere fact that I can walk and take care of myself is a huge blessing. This attitude makes me seem less intelligent and some of my co-workers do make fun of me. Am I hurt? No, because I know who I am and I am at peace with myself.

During my spiritual quest, I learned that your job is NOT a reflection of who you are. It is a role that you play. You are defined more by what you think and feel than by your job title. It is easy to hide behind a title because usually a title creates a preconceived notion of who you are but in reality it does not.
When you pass away, no one will talk about you in relation to your title but rather about how you lived your life.

When you categorize someone based on their job, you rob that person of the chance to vocalize who they truly are. You place them in a box and are not open to the idea that there may be more to them than meets the eye. That places you at a disadvantage because the person may have been of great benefit to you. So pull off those labels and give everyone the opportunity to show their true self!

Lance writes stories from his heart, aiming to inspire and motivate, as you align more fully with YOUR true peak. When he's not here, you can find him hanging out with his family, riding a bike, or just generally acting goofy.   Sign up for the Thoughts from the Treehouse newsletter and get additional inspiration in your email inbox!
Lance Ekum
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{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

Positively Present May 6, 2009 at 5:31 pm

“What do you do?” is one of the worst questions in the world. What I do says pretty much nothing about who I am as a person. I know it’s an easy question to ask people because we’ve sort of been trained to do so, but I do wish people would come up with something more creative. Your job is definitely not a reflection of who you are, and I love the way you’ve emphasized that point here. Great post, Nadia! 🙂

Positively Present´s last blog post..13 ways you distort your thoughts (and how to stop doing it)

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Caroline May 6, 2009 at 6:06 pm

OK…I so needed to read this today! I currently stay home with the kids and do not work. I feel like I am stereotyped by society as “one of those women who just didn’t make it and ended up staying home with the kids.” Today a very old friend launched her company. Another old friend broke the $1mm sales mark in her company. Honestly, I have been feeling crappy all day. I feel like I am not a contributor to my family and a failure in society. I know it’s not true, but the ego has a funny way of making you believe that it is. I have been working on this all day…just being conscious of this “thing” happening in my head. And I am exhausted!

So reading your article is very helpful. Just as you don’t like be labeled as a lawyer, sometimes I don’t like be labeled as a SAHM. I am just me…and I hope that I am making a difference in this world somehow…

Whew…sorry for the rant, but I really needed to let that out!

Caroline´s last blog post..And now I must let go…

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Vered - MomGrind May 6, 2009 at 7:05 pm

I used to be a lawyer. I wanted to help people too – especially women (I specialized in family law), but I quickly found out that I wasn’t cut out to deal with all the negativity that surrounds this profession.

I agree that “what we do” does not, should not, define “who we are.”

Vered – MomGrind´s last blog post..Bloggers Who Quit

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Amanda Linehan May 6, 2009 at 7:33 pm

Hi Nadia – We do seem to almost always bring up this question when we meet new people. But really, what do you find out about them from asking? I’m wondering what better questions there are for getting to know a person. I should make a list. 😉

Turning our jobs into our identity is a little dangerous to our souls – jobs come and go, but we are always ourselves.

Amanda Linehan´s last blog post..The Rainbow

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LisaNewton May 6, 2009 at 9:07 pm

I totally understand where you’re coming from. I too have a day job I’m not fond of talking about, for different reasons than you do, but the bottom line is the same. Being labeled as something I’m not.

You know, my daughter has aspirations of becoming an attorney. She will graduate in December with a double degree in Government and Criminology, and I couldn’t be more proud of her. During her last year and half, she has fallen in love with the active mock court team she actively participates in. As I look at her, she will also not be the “typical” lawyer.

Thank you for your post, and I don’t put anyone in a box…………………..:)

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Nadia - Happy Lotus May 6, 2009 at 9:23 pm

@ Lance – Thank you so much for the opportunity to have a guest post here and for the very kind introduction. You are awesome! 🙂

@ P. P. – Glad you liked the post and the message of it. 🙂

@ Caroline – Thank you so much for being so open regarding how you feel. No need to apologize. In my opinion, being a SAHM is a very tough job and a job that I personally admire. Taking care of your family is a huge contribution because you are giving and expressing love. You create a home which is a wonderful place for your children and spouse to return to each day. Actually, I have a post on this very topic coming up on Friday. 🙂 It is wrong for us to think that a career woman has more value than a woman who stays at home. Each person has value and is important irrespective of title, social status, and salary.

@ Vered – I started out in family law too and it was heart breaking. I agree with you on the negativity. I think many people in the profession feel that way. I am happy that you agree that our jobs do not define who we are. 🙂

@ Amanda – What I try to do when talking to someone is to get a sense of what interests them so I try to ask questions along those lines and I really never ask the “what to do you do” question. Sometimes it is great to have a discussion of what may be happening around you at that moment. But as I said in the piece, inevitably the dreaded question comes up because I think people just reflexively ask it. It is as if we are programmed to ask such a question. By the way, I loved how you wrote that identifying with our jobs is dangerous to our souls. I totally agree! 🙂

@ Lisa Newton – I wish your daughter all the best in her pursuit of a legal career! Good for her! 🙂 I am happy that you enjoyed the post and it is always nice to meet another person who does not put anyone in a box! Yay! 🙂

Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog post..604,800 Amazing Options

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Karl Staib - Work Happy Now May 6, 2009 at 9:58 pm

I agree with most of what you said. I feel that a job is a reflection of who you are because an outgoing person is more likely to go into sales. A quiet person might be more likely to find a job that fits these needs.

Life is about our relationships and the good things we’ve done. And I don’t think we should ask people what they do so we can judge them.

Work is a part of our culture and I’m happy to tell people what I do because it spurs conversations that are almost aways fun. I believe we just can’t take it all too seriously and anyone who does is limiting their ability to connect with the people they meet.

Karl Staib – Work Happy Now´s last blog post..Wonderful Reader Comment

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Laurie May 6, 2009 at 11:19 pm

I ask people what they do if I don’t know them, looking for something to talk about. I find it very interesting all the various things people do for a living and love to know more about it. That discussion can lead to all kinds of great conversation.

I agree that a person is not his/her title or position, but it usually reflects some interests the person has. At least an interesting journey to getting there.

@Caroline- you have the most important job there is. Don’t sell it short. It takes a brave person to do what she feels is right for her family and sacrifice your career and the pay check to raise your children. I have more respect for you than people who work outside their home, getting paid. Be proud when you tell people you work raising your children. You should be admired.

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Chania Girl May 7, 2009 at 12:04 am

This post reminds me of the beginning of St. Exupery’s The Little Prince. Have you read it? (It’s one of my all-time favorites).

“What do you do?” is one of the questions grown-ups ask and bypass the questions about essential things. As the narrator says:
“When you tell them about a new friend, they never ask questions about what really matters. They never ask: ‘What does his voice sound like?’ ‘What games does he like best?’ ‘Does he collect butterflies?’. They ask: ‘How old is he?’ ‘How many brothers does he have?’ ‘How much does he weigh?’ ‘How much money does his father make?’ Only then do they think they know him. “

We like our labels, and labels can be incredibly helpful. Really, they can. But there is so much more to us than that. What is essential is invisible to the eyes.

Chania Girl´s last blog post..Traveling Light

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Daphne May 7, 2009 at 5:36 am

Lance, what a lovely guest post!

Nadia, thanks for sharing so honestly about yourself. For years now, I have stared at the blank space in immigration forms next to “Occupation”. I ask myself, “Hmm, what occupies me? Reading, writing, thoughts of people I love…” And I know I can’t write any of that, because the form wants to know what work I do for a living.

I sometimes feel like writing “What I want” because I do have the freedom to choose what occupies me at any point in time. Yet I succumb to legality and common sense and write a job-sounding answer because I don’t want to be detained in the country for whatever reason, notwithstanding that I doubt immigration officers actually read those details. So I can identify with where you’re coming from.

And I love Chania Girl’s comment, with the quote from The Little Prince. I must go read that book again to remind myself what’s really important!

Daphne´s last blog post..8 Lessons from the Lindy Hop

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Linda Sand May 7, 2009 at 5:37 am

When asked what I do I like to say, “The things I choose to do.” It helps to follow that with, “Today I’m choosing…” That lets you converse without being confined by your answer and you get to decide whether today’s choice is about your job or hobby or family or…

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Paisley May 7, 2009 at 6:14 am

I’m wondering if a blog puts you in a box – I think it probably does. Is it a good thing or a bad thing to be in a blog box – right now I don’t know. Once again, a thought provoking post. Lots for me to think about. Thanks Happy Lotus. Have a wonderful day.

Paisley´s last blog post..‘Woman in a Kitchen’ continued

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Omar May 7, 2009 at 6:18 am

I love this artice. Defnitely mental food.

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Roger | A Content Life May 7, 2009 at 6:24 am

Nadia,

Good post and I agree!

I think when we put a label on someone for any aspect of his life, we put them in a box. The worst is when we label ourselves and build our own homemade box.

Roger | A Content Life´s last blog post..Meditation for Beginners (Week 1) – Introduction

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Linda Sand May 7, 2009 at 6:27 am

I keep thinking about this. Why do we answer with labels we don’t want applied to us? Why not use action words to answer? Instead of saying, “I’m a lawyer” consider saying, “I teach the disadvantaged to claim their rights.” Instead of saying, “I’m a stay at home Mom” you could say “I’m helping my daughter become a great person.” Different answers will likely bring different responses.

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Jannie Funster May 7, 2009 at 6:32 am

Wow, what a powerhouse of inspiration she is.

“I place more value on doing than on talking about doing.” and “When you pass away, no one will talk about you in relation to your title but rather about how you lived your life.” are two gems for sure.

Thanks, Lance!

Jannie Funster´s last blog post..The CDs Have Landed!

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David Cain May 7, 2009 at 6:32 am

Hi Nadia,

I don’t like the question “What do you do” either, because it implies that what you do for a living is the most important thing you do. I guess when people say you don’t seem “lawyerly,” it’s because they’re stacking you up to an imagined preconception of what a lawyer should be. I’m sure some lawyers (and others) do that to themselves too. Great post, I totally agree.

David Cain´s last blog post..The Results Are In — Experiment No. 1, Day 30

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Jay Schryer May 7, 2009 at 7:21 am

Well said, Nadia! Well said, indeed. Once upon a time, I thought that I might go to law school, but as I was thinking about it, I realized that I had no burning desire to practice law, and no great theoretical love for the legal system, and so I changed course 🙂

I am fortunate in that my day job is *almost* a good fit for my true self, and my true personality. My day job is as a writer-editor, although I do far more editing than I would really like, and not enough writing. Still, I can tell people that I am a “writer”, which is truly how I feel on the inside. More and more, however, the day job is something that pays the bills and puts food on the table while my “true” job, my blog, my poetry, and my fiction….and helping people…is what I identify with.

Jay Schryer´s last blog post..Naming Desires

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suzen May 7, 2009 at 8:16 am

Lance – You did it again! (not that I’m at all surprised – EVER!)

Nadia – WOW – couldn’t agree with you more! Labels are LIMITING and what we “do” is not at all who we are! I resonate with the flaky part too. I’ve heard that description linked to me soooo many times and my ego (if I dare listen to it) is insulted. It’s my positive thinking and upbeat nature that seems so out of place with the negative attitudes (as you experience in the law arena) and I guess people would rather dismiss me as a flake than take anything I say or do as something of value. Pity. It sure won’t stop me from being the genuinely optimistic person that I am! I send love and the peace of understanding to my “critics” and move on. That question tho, “What do you do?” hmmm, I’ve dreaded that for decades, have tried to come up with ANY answer that doesn’t label – even told somebody once that I was a “Joy Monger” just spreading joy any way I can – you should have seen that reaction! Funny! Suffice to say, answering with artist/writer leaves people just as stymied and full of questions.

Thanks so much for sharing this post. It is good medicine!

suzen´s last blog post..The Ultimate Quote – A ditty from auntie

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I TAKE OFF THE MASK May 7, 2009 at 8:46 am

@Lance – Our labels do not define us, it is our perspective of ourselves and what we do that does. In my current job as an auditor, I’ve been tagged as a fault finder many times, but it really isn’t what I think I do. I believe that I help people find a better way.

@Nadia – I’ve been following your blog already. I don’t think you’re someone that’s so easy to label 🙂 You seem like a free spirit to me, full of potential and wonderful possibilities. I enjoyed reading your post.

I TAKE OFF THE MASK´s last blog post..Life Skills – Words of Wisdom to Live Life Fully!

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Sara May 7, 2009 at 8:57 am

Lance — Thanks for introducing me to Nadia. I loved this post!

Nadia — I can’t agree with you more about the question “What do you do?” It’s become more of a challenge since I started blogging….boy can that every kill a conversation! And yet, I find myself asking this question at parties…it’s an addiction!

You’ve given me a lot to think about with this post. I especially loved this line, “When you pass away, no one will talk about you in relation to your title but rather about how you lived your life.” Good reason to live our lives well and happy:~)

Sara´s last blog post..To Boldly Go Anger Free

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Nadia - Happy Lotus May 7, 2009 at 9:13 am

@ Karl – Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I think it is wonderful that you have such a healthy and open-minded approach to viewing what people do for a living. I wish more people shared that belief because in my experience there are many people who judge one another because of their job title. 🙂

@ Laurie – Like Karl, I think it is awesome that you are so open-minded in your perspective as to what people do for a living. Not many are so it is good to know that there are people like you and Karl. 🙂

@ Chania Girl – Yes, I know that book and I absolutely love it. 🙂 I loved how you wrote that “what is essential is invisible”. That is so true!

@ Daphne – Thank you so much for being so open with your experiences with filling out immigration forms. Whenever I see a form and it asks for occupation, I am so tempted to write something long like “a free spirit lawyer who loves to write and spread happiness”. 🙂

@ Linda – Great suggestions! I have to keep those two in mind. Thank you! 🙂

@ Paisley – Happy to know that the post gave you something to think about. As for a blog putting you in a box, it will only do so if you allow it. 🙂

@ Omar – I am happy to know that you enjoyed the post! Thank you! 🙂

@ Roger – Excellent point about the dangers of self-labeling. Very true. 🙂

@ Jannie – Thank you so much for such a kind comment. I really appreciate it. 🙂

@ David – You make an excellent point that we each have preconceptions about other jobs which we carry whenever we meet someone. Glad you like the post! 🙂

@ Jay – Good for you for recognizing that law school was not the right path for you and for going on the journey that suits you better! Yay! 🙂

@ Suzen – Your joy and optimism are apparent in your comment! That is awesome and yay for being flaky! Takes a lot of talent to be perceived as being flaky…most people do not realize that but that is what I feel. For being flaky requires a skill set that looks deceptively simple and not worthwhile but whatever looks simple usually isn’t. 🙂

@ Jocelyn – Thank you so much for reading my blog and for all the kind things you wrote. Positive feedback is always nice to hear and please know it means more than you know. 🙂

Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog post..Pull Off The Labels

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Nadia - Happy Lotus May 7, 2009 at 9:14 am

@ Sara – Nice to meet you and thank you so much for being so open with your experiences. I think you are right about it being like an addiction. I think most people ask the question without realizing that they are asking it. 🙂

Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog post..Pull Off The Labels

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Evelyn Lim May 7, 2009 at 10:21 am

I normally give a reply that sounds as if I am not doing much, other than taking care of my kids. The last I did to my banker friend was to mumble a reply on my latest pursuit. I don’t think she quite got her answer.

Hmmm….after reading some of the above comments, I am now wondering what will people’s reactions be if I say I am a full time blogger or a professional psychic. It will be interesting to try a different response and see if they fall off their chair or look as if I am bonkers!

Evelyn Lim´s last blog post..Me In Every Thought

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Lance May 7, 2009 at 12:38 pm

@Nadia – Thanks so much for this post – your words are spoken from the heart. We are indeed much more than our “job”. Our life is defined by many things, a “job” being only one aspect of it. Like has been mentioned before the whole idea of what people will talk about after we pass away – it’s about how we lived. So, Nadia, thank you for the reminder – that it’s about many things – we are not defined by one portion of our life. And along those same lines, we are who we are because of the things we do, the way we think, and what deeply matters to us. No more boxes!

@Evelyn – You are definitely not bonkers! Although, to your point – some people see things that are “different” or “not mainstream” as bonkers. I say, tell them anyway!!

@Caroline – You are always welcome to “rant” here. Being a SAHM is one of the most important positions there are – you’re helping to give our future generations the building blocks to success by starting early and making “them” a priority. And that’s not to take anything away from those who are not stay-at-home parents to their children. We all have choices to make, and know that the one you’ve made is an important one Caroline. As it is, as well, for those who choose to go back to work. We all have reasons for doing what we do, and you are doing a very good thing.

@LisaNewton – Having a day job you don’t want to talk about – is okay. While I don’t know the whole circumstances, what I do know is that you share very much about your love for photography – and I feel a real sense of your purpose in that, and in how it connects with you. And that’s part of what I think Nadia is touching upon – we’re much more than what might meet the eye if we’re only “seen” at our place of employment.

@Karl – “Life is about relationships” — well said! And I’m learning this more and more each day – the importance of true and meaningful relationships.

@Daphne – “Occupation: What I want” — awesome answer!!

@I Take Off The Mask – Our perspective — that’s a great thought on this Jocelyn. Others can label us, but that doesn’t make the label to be us. No matter what others say, we all have the power to stand up and believe in who we really are.

@Suzen – Be “flaky”! And a “joy monger” — these are way cool! Even if the world as a whole thinks “flaky” is, well, flaky – don’t let it stop you from being “you”. And – spreading joy – that sounds like a pretty great thing in my book…

@Linda Sand – Great ideas! I love this paradigm shift you’re suggesting – that we look at our work in a different light – in “what” we’re actually doing, not just the job title. I think that goes a long way toward what Nadia is discussing.

@Everyone – These are great responses to what Nadia is talking about. And what’s great is seeing this whole concept from many different angles. It’s hard not to come away from all this with a little better understanding of how this relates to all of us. And that’s the real power that is evident in these comments. So, thank you, every one of you, for sharing real and deeply thought out replies. Your words touch many…

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Brenda May 7, 2009 at 2:50 pm

Very timely article, Nadia. Twitter is going a long way to change the way we view what others do. I love reading what people list as their occupation — there seems to be a trend away from conventional job designations. For years I described myself online as mother, teacher, lover, friend. Now I’m an editor, blogger, scorer who misses my deceased husband but not the classroom. Our lives change so much over time that it’s silly to think any job title can accurately depict who we are. I think you have your finger on the pulse of this new era, which is what we should expect from a lawyer whose father was a doctor. Oops. 🙂

Brenda´s last blog post..Poor Kitty

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Lizwi May 7, 2009 at 3:37 pm

I have witnessed so many instances where one person would surprise the others by doing something they thought he was incapable of doing. We really need to pull off the labels because they might not be showing the true nature of a person.

Lizwi´s last blog post..The horror of swine flu

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Nadia - Happy Lotus May 7, 2009 at 3:43 pm

@ Evelyn – I had a friend who was a psyhic and every time she told people, she would get all kinds of reactions. Inevitably everyone she met would at some point ask her if she could tell them something about their future. 🙂

@ Brenda – You raise some interesting points about how now there are so many unconventional job descriptions that maybe official titles will become a thing of the past. 🙂

@ Lizwi – Excellent point about labels not reflecting the true nature of a person. That is so true and that is why I think job titles can be deceptive. 🙂

Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog post..Pull Off The Labels

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Yira May 7, 2009 at 3:58 pm

What a fantastic article this is. It is so true that sometimes we are boxed into a category or stereotyped based on our jobs or that of our spouse. I experience this since my husband decided to become a commissioned officer in the military. I don’t really care what he does or what his rank is, he is the father of my children and my life partner and when he’s no longer an officer in the military, life will go on as usual. However, I know many who look at me as “the officer’s wife” and I hate it.

They expect me to breakout the china and silver at a party, they expect lots of prim and proper behavior, the expect I will be judgmental towards enlisted families…amazing huh? Little do the know, we were both enlisted in the military, Ha!! I am so far from any of this that I too avoid the subject when asked “what does your husband do in the military?”–I just say, I don’t know he works and brings home the bacon—ha ha so where are you from again?” Quick change of subject.

Sorry such a long story. The one thing you said here that really reminded me, again, of who we really are is “your job is NOT a reflection of who you are. It is a role that you play. You are defined more by what you think and feel than by your job title. ”

Thank You!!

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Tess The Bold Life May 7, 2009 at 5:02 pm

I agree with the whole title thing. I love the line that the fact that I can walk and take care of myself is a huge blessing. Isn’t that the truth!

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Sami - Life, Laughs & Lemmings May 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm

Hi Nadia,
Awesome post! Many parts of it resonated with me. It’s funny how society has all these stereotypes, ways of being and ways of thinking that are not necessarily positive, yet many people blindly follow along. In my opinion, being different from the masses is a great thing. It takes courage but it’s a great thing. Thanks for being a positive, stand out from the crowd force. The world needs more of it.

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janice May 7, 2009 at 5:32 pm

@Lance,
Nice to meet you in your own home instead of over at Nadia’s. Great guest post choice!
@Nadia,
Next time someone asks you what you do, just smile and say “I live, I love, I write.” For that is what you do – and you do it beautifully.

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Patricia May 7, 2009 at 7:58 pm

On a day to day basis, I work with good people who I cannot relate to because we look at life differently – to me, life is awesome. The mere fact that I can walk and take care of myself is a huge blessing. This attitude makes me seem less intelligent and some of my co-workers do make fun of me. Am I hurt? No, because I know who I am and I am at peace with myself.”

I have always disappeared to my co-workers or must be less intelligent because I do not do things their way. As I become more at peace with myself and my work, I am amazed at how they now demand things of me to go through hoops….

They don’t look with their hearts on with competition…

Very nice post and it touched me in my pursuits and endeavors right now.
Thank you Lance and Nadia

Patricia´s last blog post..Relationships and the Role of Boundaries

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Queen B May 7, 2009 at 8:43 pm

Incredible, insightful, thanks.. I was laid off from my job and have been going through an “professional identity” crisis. The point that my job (or lack thereof) does not define me really struck home and put things into perspective for me. Again, thanks to both of you. An incredible read.

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Evelyn Lim May 7, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Nadia and Lance, thanks for your comments.

Nadia, I don’t usually relish the idea of drawing any attention to myself. I prefer to blend with the wallpaper in a social setting. Few of my friends from my previous workplace know what I really do. In any case, I think we all are intuitive. Whether or not we want to tune in is a personal choice. Predict the future??? Hmmm…I need to think of a witty response before I try out my experiment.

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Queen B May 7, 2009 at 9:04 pm

By the way Lance, Great blog.

Queen B´s last blog post..

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Mike Foster May 7, 2009 at 9:04 pm

Well put and an inspiration for all of us who may not enjoy their jobs, but have fulfilling and enjoyable lives (like me). Labels? We don’t need no stinking labels?

peace,
mike
livelife365

Mike Foster´s last blog post..That’s Amore!

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Erin Prais-Hintz May 7, 2009 at 9:07 pm

Nadia- Thank you so much for your inspiration today. It was not a good day for me at my “job”. I too have a hard time defining that job to anyone. Rather I tell them that I am a creative…that opens up so many more possibilities. “I learned that your job is NOT a reflection of who you are. It is a role that you play.” I am really stuck in a rut at this job. I have been so depressed and anxious by it and I realize that I am completely trapped by it. I need to find a way out of this entanglement to stop playing this role and be who I really am. Thank you Lance for sharing this wonderful soul with us! Enjoy the day!
Erin

Erin Prais-Hintz´s last blog post..Meet My New Friend: Gustav

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Nadia - Happy Lotus May 7, 2009 at 9:26 pm

@ Yira – You are most welcome and thank you for sharing your experiences. I am happy that you agree that our jobs and titles are just roles that we play. 🙂

@ Tess – I am happy that you enjoyed the post. 🙂 There are so many blessings we have that we are unaware of because we have not lost them. So that is why we take them for granted.

@ Sami – Thank you so much for all the kind things you wrote. 🙂 Yes, the world does need more positive people. Actually, I think that there are many positive people but they are not as loud as the negative ones.

@ Janice – Thank you for always being such a supportive friend. 🙂 I will have to keep your suggestion in mind the next time someone asks me what do I do.

@ Patricia – I liked the line the following line that you wrote: “they don’t look with their hearts on with competition”. That is such a great statement and a very true one. I am so happy that the post resonated with what you are experiencing . 🙂

@ Queen B – I am sorry to hear that you were laid off. Thank you for saying that the post put some perspective as to what you are going through. During my spiritual quest, there was a time where I had no job and it was really hard. It was during that time that I really began to ponder about the whole label issue. Life works in interesting ways. 🙂

@ Evelyn – You are welcome and I think you are absolutely right that we all are intuitive. Some people just have developed it a bit more than others. 🙂

@ Mike – Your comment made me laugh…thank you! Yes…who needs labels? 😉

Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog post..Pull Off The Labels

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Nadia - Happy Lotus May 7, 2009 at 9:30 pm

@ Erin – Thank you so much for all the kind words and you are not alone in feeling trapped in your job. Many people know your pain. I congratulate you for being aware of the situation and wanting to break free. Not many people do so give yourself a pat on the back for being aware. Yay! There is nothing better than being true to yourself. 🙂

Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog post..Pull Off The Labels

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Jillian May 7, 2009 at 10:06 pm

Hello Lance,
I’m glad to have found you. Your philosophy and positivity are similar to mine.

I thought that you might get a kick out of my post called, “I used to be…NYC Version”.

Hope to hear from you, Jillian

Jillian´s last blog post..ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

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Angie May 7, 2009 at 11:48 pm

What a wonderful article!
I think it is so interesting that when you first meet someone, or even see someone you haven’t seen in a long time the focus is always on WHAT you are doing, rather than how you are truly feeling; your passions, dreams, challenges- what is really REAL about you.
Not that I am not interested in what has been going on with the person, I just think it would be nice to quickly get past all that job and plans stuff.
It is so wonderful when both people can shed the persona and just get real- those are the magical moments:)

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Barbara Swafford May 8, 2009 at 2:07 am

Hi Lance and Nadia,

I love what you said, Nadia, about when we die. No one does say anything about what great “fill in the blank” we were, but they do comment on how great the person was, or what a big heart they had. To me, it’s sad to see people being hung up and/or impressed by “what we do” labels. I’d rather get to know a person for who they are and not for what they do and vise versa.

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Hilary May 8, 2009 at 2:34 am

Hi Lance and Nadia .. thank you .. Lance – you’ve given us brilliant guests .. I’ve loved meeting them all .. and enjoy learning from them, which will continue.

Nadia .. great post: I love the title – Pull off the Labels .. perhaps we should start our conversations differently when we meet new people .. eg I like your attitude, or you’ve got a positive outlook .. you must be enjoying life .. that will open up the conversation and their replies. Good points you make .. I’m going to try it ..

Thanks – have great days ..
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Hilary´s last blog post..Moles, Worms and Charles Darwin – Naturalist …

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Kaushik May 8, 2009 at 6:23 am

A very timely post, when many people are out of work and can’t find work, or worried about their jobs. We create a strong identity around “what we do” and any change in this can be difficult for many. Thanks.

Kaushik´s last blog post..Are you unemployed – Lost your job? – Worried about your job? Laid off? Not finding a job? Do you have anxiety about the financial crisis?

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Tabitha May 8, 2009 at 7:00 am

I SO loved reading this!! This is so true and can also be applied to us living with disabilities. We are immediately labeled cripple, disabled or handicapped. That does not or should not define who we are in the least. It should also not base what we can and can not do in this life.

I truly loved reading this this morning!!

Tabitha´s last blog post..Early Morning Thinking

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Stacey Shipman May 8, 2009 at 7:15 am

Oh, I hate that question. I do a lot of networking (in person) and of course that is always the first question. the folks I network with label themselves either with titles or company names. About a year ago I decided to stop using a company name – you get me when you hire me – and I hated titles. I do so many things and started to feel trapped by the titles. My husband and I were out one night with some of his friends from grade school and one of them said “What do you guys do”. We explained in brief our jobs (which to some extent have similar components) and this individual responded back “Oh, you help people feel good.” I loved it.

I would rather know how you live your life or what makes you happy, passionate, excited! I’m going to start asking those questions instead of what do you do. Will probably provide more engaging conversation.

Stacey Shipman´s last blog post..Present with Confidence: Beware the Nervous Habit

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ann elise May 8, 2009 at 7:33 am

Lawyers certainly do have labels. There was a time when I wanted to be a lawyer because of the label. Now that I am in medicine, lawyers have a totally different label 🙂

I do think that the area of study we choose to devote countless hours and dollars to does say something about us. Looking past the label, WHY you do what you do and HOW you do it, these DO say a lot about who you are as a person.

What really struck a chord in me was your paragraph on failure. Lack of accomplishment in one area can lead to reorganizing efforts in a different area and lead to a greater success. Thank you for thegentle reminder to look for the lesson.

Caroline, never, EVER let comparisons to others’ successes make you feel bad about being a SAHM. The most powerfully positive message I ever read about motherhood was a quote by Martha Sears, wife of the pediatrician Dr Barry Sears. From his website: “one of her favorite quips when someone voices their concern about her having eight children in an already populated world is: ‘The world needs my children.’ ” The seeds you sow today may not bloom for decades, but have the potential for generations of positive impact.

Chania Girl, what a great quote! I haven’t read that book but now I’m intrigued. Will have to look for it.

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Nadia - Happy Lotus May 8, 2009 at 10:30 am

@ Angie – I know exactly what you mean on having the desire for people to be real. I always am humored when people want to appear all perfect because let’s face it, no one is perfect. We all have our faults and areas that we are not too proud about. I think we can learn a lot from one another and being real is the basis from where we can achieve that. 🙂

@ Barbara – I am so happy that you liked the post. I lost my mother about four years ago and it was a great lesson to see how others described her. No one mentioned the house, the cars, and other material items. Everyone just talked about her as a person. So that is why I felt the urge to include that sentence in the piece. 🙂

@ Hilary – Give it a try and let me know how it goes. I would love to hear the experience that you have! 🙂 Hope all is well with you!

@ Kaushik – I never thought about the timeliness of this post so thank you for bringing that to my attention. 🙂

@ Tabitha – Thank you so much for applying the concept of lables to those who are living with disabilities. I am so happy that you brought this up because I think it is an issue that needs to be addressed. I have always felt that a disability just referred to the body and never to someone’s soul and heart. It always makes me mad when people look down upon others who are disabled because it is a judgment. A healthy person can be disabled too but no one ever sees that because the outside appears to be “normal”. Thank you again for bringing this issue up in your comment! 🙂

@ Stacey – I loved how your husband’s friend described your job. That is perfect! I have found that when I talk to someone and never ask the dreaded question, I end up having a really great in-depth conversation. However, either at the very end of the conversation or the next time I talk to them, it comes up. So be prepared for it always coming up at some point but then again your experience may be different. Let me know what happens! 🙂

@Ann Elise – My entire family is in medicine so I had to be the rebel and go into law! 🙂 I personally do not believe in the concepts of mistakes and failure. Failure is only when you do not learn from an experience. The same is true for a mistake. Life is all about learning and we learn from experience.

Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog post..To All The Wonder Women In The World

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Mark May 8, 2009 at 10:47 am

Great post. I am not sure who said “Label me and you negate me” however it is very true. Labels do place perceived limits on us. I do not like labels and I too do not look forward to questions like what do you do, or what religion are you or what sign are you. As soon as you answer these types of questions most people are already forming mental opinions about you based on their experience with that label. I much prefer to simply “be”.

Mark´s last blog post..The Present of Our Presence

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Dr. Jennifer Howard May 8, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Dear Nadia,

Thank you for the blog. I agree. Who we are shines through anything we do. Sometimes people do jobs that reflect a small part of themselves. One of our goals in life would be to find our true profession that reflects most of us. Living life from who we truly are is a life long journey.

To being who we truly are,

Dr. Jennifer Howard
http://www.DrJenniferHoward.com

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Nadia - Happy Lotus May 8, 2009 at 3:47 pm

@ Mark – I agree with you, it is much better to simply “be”. I also appreciate that quote that you used in your comment. I love it. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog post..To All The Wonder Women In The World

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Nadia - Happy Lotus May 8, 2009 at 9:19 pm

@ Dr. Jennifer Howard – I agree that living authentically is a life long journey. Oscar Wilde said the best romance a person can have is learning to love onself. 🙂

Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog post..To All The Wonder Women In The World

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Liara Covert May 9, 2009 at 10:17 am

Love the post. It reminds people their authenticity is not based on what they do for a living. Authentic power is only invisible to those who do not choose to access it within themselves.
It is a process to learn what this is and how to get at it. The what always comes before the how. In other words, ideas arise in the mind before you consciously figure out exactly the purpose. Not to panic, everything comes to mind at exactly the most appropriate moment for everyone.

Liara Covert´s last blog post..Unleash the real you!

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Nadia - Happy Lotus May 9, 2009 at 2:14 pm

@ Liara – Great point at how some people are not able to access their authentic self because they do not know how. I think that is what spirituality and awareness is all about…learning how to access our true self. Thank you so much for leaving a comment here and at my site. Hope all is well. 🙂

Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog post..To All The Wonder Women In The World

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Suzie Cheel May 9, 2009 at 10:40 pm

Interesting the label thing. When I was an a teacher and an artist ot was a synch, then that was what I did, NOT WHO I BE. That would be an interesting question

Great post Thanks

Suzie Cheel´s last blog post..Super Abundant Bloggers # 9

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