"What do you do?" I hate myself for asking this when meeting someone for the first time but I keep doing it. It is such a social norm. And of course having asked the question I invariably get the standard response of a job title. But what does that mean? Do I really care that the other person is an accountant, a lorry driver, a marketer or a judge? They are all just labels. Shorthand that we all too readily slip into. Even to ourselves.
I am a "fill in the gap" is all too tempting, too easy. But it becomes a problem when we do it for too long. It becomes a self made cage. It becomes brittle and fragile. When our labels slip or become inapplicable, through job loss or other life change, we face an existential crisis.
But they are just words. Just words we put into stories. Stories that we made up. Stories that we can change.