“So what do you do for a living?” It’s a typical ice breaker upon meetings, but for many people, it can cause so much anxiety because some of us have had to live with the stigma associated with whatever occupation we’ve chosen in our lives.
Nurses, retail workers, sales associates, cops, social workers, artists, writers. Our vocational choices in life are just one of the many identities we have in life, but they are an area of social justice that often gets overlooked.
When it comes to identity and the many stereotypes and assumptions associated with it, people can have so much thrown at them for things they often have no control of. Race, gender, sexual orientation, financial status, but I think it’s important to address something that still receives plenty of stigma in society, something that is often the cause for discriminating remarks, negative assumptions, and sometimes can even lead to unprovoked hatred and possibly even violence.
As an aspiring blogger, writer, and designer, I work from home. I am an artist and a creator, and all too often, when I tell others what I am doing, I get remarks like ‘must be nice to stay home watching TV all day’ or ‘when are you going to get a real job?’ People don’t take me seriously, think that I am just lounging about all day, instead of spending countless hours dedicated to my business every day. Just because I don’t have a long commute or sit in a cubicle all day doesn’t mean I am not just as dedicated to my work as anyone else is.
Another example is what my husband does and what he used to do. He’s a used car salesman, and before that, he worked in retail selling appliances. When people hear ‘car salesman’ they immediately thing insincerity, deceitful, someone, not to be trusted nor to be taken seriously. They think of someone who is dishonest instead of realizing that this is a human being just trying to do a job.
Why should our jobs define us? Why does finding out what you do for a living have to dictate how someone treats you? Think that retail workers aren’t intelligent? Think that cops are all corrupt? I think it’s important to understand that as human beings, we should not be reduced to this. Occupational identity, like anything else, is just another part of a person’s identity and a little understanding goes a long way, after all, just like anything else, we are all still human in the end.