I reach the office, and in about half an hour completely forget about home, family, friends and the rest of the world which exists outside the premises of my workplace. Yes, in between work, during the lunch break and the coffee breaks, I make a call or drop a text, chill out with my colleagues and forget about work for a while, but during those 9 hours, I am a different person, I believe.
A colleague and a team member even remarked once, “Hey! I have never seen this side of you in the meetings!!”
That made me wonder, “Does my role define what I am? Are my roles defined by what I am? And is my personality shaped by the task I have in hand at the time?”
I can be a very different person from what I am doing. I can also be the same person with what I am doing.
A dialogue from one of my favourite movies (Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara) comes to my mind as I think more about it. It goes, “Your work is just a part of your life, not your entire life.”
However, the character in that movie seemed to have confused and mingled the two. But does that make me a dual personality then? Having a life outside work, which is different from what I appear like at work, makes me appear different to different people, I suppose.
Several questions came to my mind, for instance, does a teacher always treat her own children the same way as she treats her students even when they are not in the classroom? At work, we have different goals and are expected to behave a certain way (at least at most of the jobs). But at home, with our family and friends, we are unrestrained.
We share different relationships with different people in different set of affairs.
Also, one of the major factors that affect could be the money. We are not paid for what we do and speak at home. There’s our personality gets different. Completely different. Accordingly, we are trained to fit in different roles.
Mind you, I don’t hate my job (and surely most people don’t). Yes, there have been times when there were deadlines to be met, stress was running high, staying at work late and much more things involved. There was also a phase when in trying to appear better than others, I attempted to please my boss and failed despite giving in my best. This led to frustrations and it affected my behaviour at home too. I cribbed about the work, got irritated at the smallest of things, and simply made living with me difficult for the entire family.
Who am I if I do a job that I don’t like doing but I do? Who am I if I am a happy person while listening to music but immediately get fed up figuring that a new work email awaits me? Who am I if I am writing stories about how to survive a relationship but I recently had a breakup? And who am I if I am excited at work but my life sucks?
Such questions kept lingering in my mind!
But then one day it got too much for everyone around and father, after listening to my every word patiently, asked me a simple question, “Have you ever seen me in a foul mood because of my work in so many years?” That embarrassed me as I realised that the answer was no.
He went on to say, “We are here with you. But keep your work at work, not here. You live, eat and sleep here. You should not have forgotten that. Give your best there and let it rest there. Let your work be what it is, something which gets you the money. And work satisfaction. But don’t let it define you what you come home with.”
That shut me up. I then realised, my work defines my work, not me. The standards I set from my work are not the standards of what personally I am. It could have been very well possible, but still, my work is work, my life is life.
The person I am is not always decided by the work I am doing.
I thought, if I’m putting my best foot forward, it will anyway get acknowledged. And so it did!
What my father said also made me realise that my real life happens with my family and with me. One may be an accountant, or a teacher, or an investment banker, but that doesn’t define them, does it? That defines their work profile, work status et al. There’s that “work” getting added before what they tell you about themselves.
Can we say for sure what a person would be like just by his profession, like, “Oh! He is a painter; he must have a bad temper!’ or “He likes spicy food because he is a software engineer” How ridiculous that sounds!
The kind of person that I am, will stay the same and change with circumstances and evolve, but that would be because of my life experiences, right? Not because of what happens at work, with work (maybe sometimes but not always).
Does a rag picker become a dirty person just because he cleans the dirt? Better to say again than never, your work is work, your life is life. And what you do is not always what you are!
I may be earning more than the person who works for me, but his clothes could be more expensive than mine! Does that make my standard lower than him then? Or him a level up? Surely not!
In the end, it all comes to this, what we are is not always defined by what we do!
(With inputs from Ayush Garg).
Crafted with brevity for select stories to make certain you see what others don't; sent every Friday
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