When someone asks you who you are how do you answer? As a creature of action we tend to identify ourselves with our action. Ask a field and tract person who they are and they will respond that they are a runner or jumper. Ask an accountant and he will respond that he is a CPA, and so forth, a student will respond that she is a freshman as so on, ask the teacher and she will tell you that she is a professor at the college. To identify with one action is as old as mankind. The stalker saw himself as a hunter, the fighter as a warrior. Women accepted the role that was left to them, keeping the camp, skinning, gathering and cooking, and called them selves by the name that the tribe who gave that action called it, be it squaw or housewife.
One’s actions were once, and still are for many, limited to the action of making a living (staying alive) dominating the role the individual had to assume. As long as the action is limited to the acts of survival the self-identification was limited. When one has to till the land the live long day he can only see himself as a farmer. When one livelihood comes from the games he plays he will identify himself with those games. A Baseball Player, Football Player, Golfer and so on into the myriad of other games in which people have found to make a living. A pretender will call himself an actor; a person who gets his livelihood from a pension and Social Security will say that they are retired when asked what they do. Note that just about everything a person clams to be in one way or another reflects how they make a living. Even a housewife makes her living being a wife and a mother.
This action was and is the very essence of the individual, and to identify the self with the action was not just something the tribe imposed, as much it was something that the individual imposed upon the tribe. People tend to be proud of what they do and achieve, and they want the skill and expertise recognized by the tribe. That is why a Doctor insists on the Ph. D after his name, the X-ray techs at the hospital want to be called Technologists, the bio-medical tech wishes to be called a Technician. This is not trite, it is important because of all the time and effort they put into gaining the skills they have acquired, and want their services recognized.
Many people condemn this self-imposed identity and tell others that they must give them up, I assure you that is a lot easier to say than to do. People like to be known as a wife or a husband, a father or a mother. The names of what they do for a living gives them an identity, which can be expressed with few words but convey a wealth of information. True, we all assume different roles in our lives, at night we are the wife or husband, during the day we raise our kids and or go to work to support ourselves and our families. However, if you ask a Dentist what he does seldom will mother or father, wife or husband is the first description given. Virtually without exception the Dentist will answer that he is a dentist, the Welder that he is a welder, the NASCAR Driver that he drives NASCARs, and this is true of just about, if not all professions.
Is this wrong? That which a person has to do well enough to support themselves has to occupy a lot of their time, both at work and after they leave work. The more satisfying and fulfilling the work is the greater the identification with the work will be. A hamburger flipper, or car-wash worker will not identify themselves with their jobs near as much as a Doctor or Lawyer will.
I am confused in my identity, I want to say I am a horse trainer when I am asked, but I also want to be an author, and a husband, an adventure, a wise man and maybe before I die I will figure out what I want to be when I grow up.