Rule 10, Chapter 12: Your job should not define you

Last week, I had a mini epiphany. The clue as to what this was is in the title of this post.

british-newspapers-881358_640I was reading the Daily Mail’s You magazine at the time (I hate to admit it…), but the article I was skimming though actually made me double take. And indeed re-think the old career path. Let me try to explain….

I work in media, essentially doing a weird job which is a mix of sales, marketing and creative stuff for a national newspaper group. I have done this for various media companies for the last 15 years.

Therefore I:

  • Drink far more than I should do
  • Swear like an absolute trooper
  • Have very little patience for people when I’m busy
  • Can be very blunt, often to the point of rudeness
  • Go ‘mad’ – think gnashing teeth and hair pulling – when the work load gets too much. Which is frequently
  • Fight the daily (loosing) battle of keeping many, many people happy

However, when I left university, I was none of those things. Well, in truth, I liked a beer, and was known to drop the odd swear word into conversation for effect, but nothing like my traits of today. I certainly wasn’t rude, mad or impatient. And I believe I managed to keep most of the people around me fairly happy without much effort at all. Thus keeping me happy in the process too.

So why the change in me? Well. Newspapers are a brilliant industry to work in, but media sales is a highly pressured job (which I know many jobs are), but add to this a hard-drinking culture (a quick way to de-stress), somewhere where saying ‘fuck’ every other word is totally acceptable (in fact, it’s weird if you don’t), where editors often lose their temper on an hourly basis (so it’s fine when you lose yours), where everything is time pressured (you have to get the newspaper written, designed and printed every single day, therefore you need answers, the right answers now), and where no matter how hard I try, clients will always want more from me, and the company will want more off me, be it my time or more money to hit targets, then you get an environment that breeds bad habits. Very bad habits. And if those habits become ingrained, then what are you? I am my job.


When I thought about it further, I realised that I’d let my job define me. In a really bad way. I’ve become a stereotype. And not a very nice one at that.

So on my journey home with You magazine, I wondered to myself, where was the kid at uni who just wanted to write great stories? Where was the person who was happy when they made other people happy? Where was the smiling girl who was laid back and relaxed, who liked to say yes to things, rather than a monster who was approaching the whole wide world with wry cynicism, a large glass of red and a pocketful of  ‘fuck you’s’?

I reckon she’s still in there somewhere. And, I never thought I’d say this, but thanks to that article in the Daily Mail, I’ve decided to have a bit of a rethink about myself. I don’t need to be those things that my job has inflicted on me, so I’m simply going to try and shed them and emerge happy in a new skin. Drink a bit less, swear a bit less. Try and think about how my tone of voice and behaviours affect others. And let my job just simply be my job. Not me. Because I can be whoever I choose to be, regardless of where I work.

And for my next career move, perhaps I’ll take a totally different path and write those stories, or simply do something that makes other people happy. Might make me a happier person too.

So. That’s my view anyway. As the Daily Mail so succinctly put it, your job should not define you. Should it?

The office worker is wearing a conservative business dress in appropriate colors with matching accessories. Her hair is arranged simply, and her hands are carefully manicured. She uses makeup with discretion.