Who Are You?

No, this isn’t a WHO song. This is your life. 

You ever go to a party and introduce yourself? Usually you say hi and make small chitchat, but shortly thereafter the conversation usually tends to gravitate towards work.

“What do you do for a living?”

How common is this question? I’d say pretty damn common. Why is that?

I think the answer is that we, as a society, identify ourselves by our occupation. And that’s really not all that surprising, considering many of us spend a great deal of time earning a paycheck at whatever it is we all do. Not only is there usually an education that one must receive to do certain jobs in life, but there’s also the waking up early, commuting and then spending 8-10 hours a day at our jobs.

Does it have to be this way? Should we identify ourselves by our jobs? 

I don’t know the answer to that question. I suppose if you have a particularly noble position in society like a police officer, firefighter, teacher or a politician (maybe not so noble), then maybe it’s natural to identify yourself by your vocation. But is that a good thing? I don’t particularly think so. What happens if you lose your job or become unable to do it one day? What happens when you retire? Do you lose your identity when one of these events occur? It’s certainly possible. I don’t know how healthy it is to specifically blend yourself and your job into one identity. Don’t you lose a piece of yourself when you do this…or is your job all that there is to you?

I don’t identify myself by my job. 

Right now I work as a service advisor at an automotive dealership. I’m a liason between the owner of luxury vehicles and the technicians who work on those vehicles. I advise on repairs and maintenance, process paperwork and provide estimates. But that’s not who I am as a person. That’s not how I identify myself. I wasn’t born in this world to be a service advisor.

Who am I? 

I’m an artist. Specifically, I’m a writer. I enjoy expressing myself through the art of the written word and I really take pleasure in inspiring others. I love encouraging others to march to the beat of their own, individual drum. We don’t all have the same song playing in our heads. We’re all unique people, with unique hopes, aspirations, dreams, goals. I love expressing mine and making connections. Writing allows me to expound on that.

I’m an investor. I genuinely derive pleasure from reading analyst reports on companies. I love looking at 10-year financial information. Finding a company that has an attractive balance sheet with low debt, consistently buys back shares at opportune times, has a lengthy history of paying out and increasing dividends to shareholders, sells products or services that people across the world want or need and has common stock that is attractively priced below its intrinsic value is one of the pure joys in the world. I absolutely love seeing dividends hit my brokerage account, and the tangible progress that dividend growth investing provides is really reassuring and motivating.

I’m a friend, brother, son and partner. My family and friends mean everything to me. I love spending time with those that mean the most to me. It’s this love that inspires me to pursue financial independence. The opportunity to have more time to cultivate the relationships that mean the most to me is priceless, and certainly more valuable than the earnings that another 20-30 years of full-time employment could provide.

I’m a philosopher. I enjoy discovering new knowledge. I actually revel in just thinking. How could the world be a better place? Why are we here? Humanity has so much potential and yet we consistently fall short. There’s a lot of people out there suffering while others live high on the hog. This was true 1,000 years ago, and is still true today. The standard of living for billions has increased dramatically, but we have a long way to go as a collective species. How do we improve? How can I help?

I’m a fitness enthusiast. I’m no longer the competitive bodybuilder I was in my teens and I don’t hit the gym for hours on end like I did in my early 20’s. However, I still enjoy pushing my body and staying in shape. Certainly one should be proud of what they see when they take a look in the mirror after a shower. 

These are some of my major interests in life. I have so many things I can personally improve upon, and with the free time that financial independence can offer I’ll have an opportunity to do so. It’s hard to maximize all of the above interests and hobbies when I’m spending 50+ hours a week working at a job that I don’t identify with. Cultivating oneself and important relationships is the key to happiness. Working harder and longer to afford more “stuff”, however, is not the key to happiness. I’m only working long and hard now to commit a sort of financial arbitrage – saving high amounts of my net income and investing it as intelligently as I can so as to achieve the freedom I require to pursue the things that make me happy!

This is who I am. 

Who are you?

Thanks for reading.

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Comments

  1. says

    Well said, DM. Totally agree with you on this. You, DG Machine and others inspired me to start my own blog. Unfortunately I haven’t even felt I have hadthe spare time lately to post anything due to turmoil at work. That’s why I will continue investing, to eventually be free of it all and completely own my own time.

    • says

      Warrior,

      Nothing wrong with not having the time to post blog updates. It’s demanding, and sometimes life gets in the way. No shame in that. When you’re ready to go back, it’ll still be there. :)

      I’m with you owning your own time. I always like to say:

      Why would you want to own a bunch of “stuff” when you don’t even own your own time yet? What could be more valuable than your own freedom?

      Keep it up!

      Best wishes.

  2. says

    Great post DM! I consider myself a philosopher as well. My biggest challenge right now is figuring out how I can become financially free so that I can pursue the joys that make up who I am. Well, it’s not really a “challenge”, the challenge is in figuring out how to do it sooner rather than later. Stopping from time to time and asking who we are is a great exercise.

    • says

      The Stoic,

      I’m glad I’m not alone in considering myself a philosopher. I think that being aware of oneself and humanity is really important.

      I’m with you on trying to figure out how to reach FI sooner rather than later. That’s really where the difficulty lies. It’s easy to know that we have to save a bunch of money and invest in income producing assets. It’s much harder to do this very quickly without risking it all.

      Here’s to the journey!

      Take care.

  3. says

    Interesting and one I have discussed with others more than once. My first job after getting my business degree was in Sales. Later I became a lawyer, and I have told people many times that the difference between the way people perceive you, especially initially, is clear. People may like to tell lawyer jokes, but my experience was that once someone discovers you are a lawyer they tend to be much more interested in what you do and just generally assume (wrongly) that you must be a bright guy. Was I any smarter when I was a lawyer than when I was in Sales (or driving a forklift, or teaching hockey school, or laying sod in the summers, or ….?). The answer – nope, but that’s people’s perceptions, and you will have more luck herding cats than changing minds.

    At the risk of turning this post into a novel (which is my habit!), I am reminded of a quote attributed to Mike Schmidt, the former great Philadelphia Phillies third basemen when he retired. A reporter asked him why he was retiring when it appeared he could still play at a high level. His response – “For those people who know me, no answer is necessary, and for those who don’t, no answer will suffice.” He knew he couldn’t satisfy everyone, and didn’t try to. Not a bad philosophy it seems to me.

    • says

      Dining on Dividends,

      It’s amazing that a lot of the times, perception is not only more important than reality…but more widely used. People perceive what they want and that’s where close mindedness comes from. They aren’t open to the actual reality of it all.

      I decided to open my eyes a while ago. I’ll never close them again.

      Best regards!

  4. Anonymous says

    “What do you do for a living?” or “Where do you work?” is the famous question when it comes to dating.

    Would a person who likes to travel will not want to date someone who is poor. They will not even take the chance in getting to know you. Poor people are usually poor because they are not willing to work at bettering themselves and also never save any money .

    In terms of points of the post, if a person wants to be successful they need to surround themselves with like-minded people. It is always easier to be around positive, upbeat, goal-oriented person than to be around a negative person. A negative person basically drains energy the energy out of people who they are around.

    • says

      Anonymous,

      I agree with you.

      Surrounding yourself with people who do not share the same ideas, dreams or goals will surely lead you to a disappointing relationship.

      I’m lucky to have a very supportive family and friend network. And I must say this blog is also part of that network, and it’s readers like you that I really love interacting with. These relationships are very important to me.

      I hope you continue to surround yourself with like-minded people as well!

      Best wishes.

  5. says

    DM,

    I really enjoyed this post since it resonates so much with my own experiences. You and I think in much the same way. It’s funny, but I’ve noticed this a lot lately as well. Even amongst my closest friends (people I’ve known since college or childhood), I can observe how boring and mundane our conversations have grown over the years.

    It’s no one’s fault, really, but when work consumes so much of your life, well, it just doesn’t leave much time to allow you to grow and evolve as a person. We mostly just talk about work or the “good ole times”. I hate that, b/c to me it’s a clear indicator that I’m no longer advancing as a human being. I’m so much more than my job, and I can’t wait till I reach early FI so that I can prove it!

    Glad you still know who you are! Most working stiffs just know the routine of the 9 to 5…

    • says

      FI Fighter,

      Thanks for stopping by.

      I’m with you completely. It’s hard to advance ourselves when we’re spending so much of our available time and energy at work in exchange for a paycheck. I greatly look forward to the day that I have considerably more of my time and energy available to spend on activities and relationships that are much more important to me.

      I hope our journeys continue to prove successful. Keep up the great work and I’m looking forward to following your progress.

      Best wishes!

  6. says

    Nicely said DM ! When asked about what I do I answer I am an investor with all the risks that this implies ! At times I say squarely: Let me live please ! When asked where I come from, I answered sometimes, from Cameroun ! When people ask you for your job or wherefrom you come, it means (I usually open my purse and show them some fiat notes) money, money, money, How much are you worth ?

    My gratitude for your posts !

    February 6, 2013 at 3:31 AM

    • says

      Aspenhawk,

      Great answers there. Anyone who is that concerned about what you do or how much money you make is someone that probably doesn’t deserve your time.

      My gratitude for your readership and comments!

      Take care.

  7. says

    I think I would lose a part of my identify if I lost my job. I work in the sciences and that has been a good fit with my personality and interests since I can remember (elementary school-ish).

    If I lost my job, I’d never lose the worldview and patterns of thought and analysis that years of working and studying has ingrained in me.

    Jobs are identifiers because they tell you a lot about the person. How much they make? How educated they are? What’s their position in society?

    If I had to describe myself in non job terms I’d pick: polymath, investor, traveler, writer, philosopher, and maybe some others.

    • says

      My Fi,

      It’s great that you really enjoy your job. I think the identity crisis happens when someone assigns a large portion of their self image to their job. I certainly don’t think it’s wrong to be proud of what you do and be happy with the success it brings. I just never want to commit my identity to a job/career.

      I like those descriptions. I’m not a traveler yet, but I hope to add that to the list one day when I have the time and resources to do so.

      Best wishes!

    • says

      Anonymous,

      Thanks for the wonderful comment. I really appreciate that. I’m really glad you enjoyed it. I write these posts to inspire others, so I’m glad there’s some value there.

      Best regards!

  8. says

    Nice post, DM. You always knock this type of post out of the park.

    I still think it’s a fair question to ask others: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It is another way of asking “Who are you?” Most people just want to be the things you list: friend/brother/son/husband/father and independent thinker/philosopher.

    • says

      Headed Home,

      Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate the comment!

      I agree. I think a lot of the motivation behind becoming financially independent is so that one can spend more time with their wife/husband/parents/siblings/children and so on. Interpersonal relationships are much more valuable than any piece of paper that’s printed by the Treasury.

      I hope we continue to prosper and get to the holy land sooner rather than later.

      Best wishes.

  9. says

    DM,

    This is quite a deep question but I’ll try taking a stab at it.

    I’m a son, brother, uncle, friend and co-worker. I’m a Christian. I’m a listener. I’m kind and caring, honest and genuine. I am a dreamer and a thinker. I am an introvert and although I love being with close family and friends, I get organized, inspired and energized by being alone.

    I am inspired to create a future that’s my own, that’s different from the norm, and one in which I am free and able to be more caring, help people more, and be with those I love more often than I’m able to now. To do this, I’m on a mission to become financially independent.

    • says

      Kraig,

      It was good talking to you yesterday. Always enjoy our conversations.

      That’s a great list there. The more time you have to cultivate those interests the better, and the fact that you’re doing the most you possibly can at such a young age gives you a great chance of being a better person at everything you want to do.

      I hear you on being an introvert. I am as well. I like 1-on-1 interactions, or at most small groups (which usually just involves my family). I don’t get along well in big groups or social situations and thrive the most in terms of ideas and thoughts when I’m alone.

      Keep up the good fight!

      Take care.

  10. Chad says

    “Who are you?” “What do you do for a living?” This time of the year these are two questions that I don’t mind answering. When I tell them I’m a CPA, the next question they usually ask is, “Can you help me with my taxes/tax problem?”. I always answer absolutely, I’d be happy to help. It gets me one step closer to retirement. It has gotten me to the point that I have enough FU money to just do this on the side and not work a full time job for 20 years or more. This time of the year being a CPA does define who I am. Outside of tax season, I’m a father/husband/brother/son/investor/amateur writer. Should probably start a blog then I could change the amateur to professional.

    • says

      Chad,

      Well it sounds like this age-old question proves to be quite profitable for you this time of year. Good for you! A little side income never hurt!

      If you start a blog, be sure to stop by and share it. We’d all love to see it.

      Best wishes.

  11. says

    At various times during my working career I had some pretty lofty titles. I always found it surprising how this turned heads. I never felt the title, even the cool ones, were me. Rather:

    “I’m just this guy, you know?”

    • says

      jlcollinsnh,

      Thanks so much for stopping by. You’re doing a great job with that blog over here. I really enjoy reading it.

      I’m with you. Titles do nothing for me. I’d only like to be remembered as a loving person who sought out happiness at every opportunity.

      Best regards!

  12. says

    DM, nice writing. I liked your introduction especially the investor one and the family one. Thanks for sharing. We have a lot of in common. I liked also your writer point. I love writing as well since it helps me learning English language (it is not my native language) and as much I read and write as much improvement I can see. I only hate writing my observation reports at my job. That for some reason doesn’t fit my nature.

    • says

      Martin,

      I’m glad that your blog is helping you master the English language. Good for you!

      I’ve tried learning Spanish and failed miserably. I’ll have to give it another go one of these days. That’s something I’d really like to learn.

      Keep up the great work, and hopefully those observation reports will end sooner rather than later.

      Take care!

  13. says

    Nice post. Caused me to look inward.
    I’d probably describe myself as a thinker (I love to think, ponder and analyze), business model enthusiast (how and why something makes money) a history buff and running enthusiast!

    • says

      Integrator,

      Not a bad list there.

      I wish I was a running enthusiast. I’ve tried many times, but just never found the appeal. I prefer the elliptical at the gym. I try to jog short distances when I get the chance, however.

      I’m definitely a thinker. I take whole afternoons on the weekends sometimes and just browse the internet to research ideas, themes and concepts. I then just play out some of those ideas and scenarios in my head. It’s actually quite fun. I’m easily entertained! :)

      Best wishes!

    • says

      Brij,

      I do use WordPress. I’ve used both Google Blogger and WordPress. I like them both. I think Blogger is definitely better for someone who wants an easy platform who perhaps considers blogging more of a hobby. WordPress offers a much more robust platform with many more options to take you to the next level, if you’re interested in that.

      Best of luck if you decide to start a blog. :)

      Cheers.

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