Saturday, February 2, 2013

I like Cats and Ending Slavery.

When you meet someone have you ever wondered why one of the first questions is often, “What do you do?”. Most of us answer with our occupation. My question is, why do we let our jobs define us? I have learned that your job does not define who you are. Your actions, your beliefs, your experiences – those things define who you are. I work in radio and in retail. If you ask me what I do, I'll answer with “I help change the world. I'm a humanitarian.”

When writing to friends and family to gather financial support for our second Hero Holiday to Dominican Republic in July of 2011, that blurb above was my opening paragraph. I thought it was pretty darn good. I was defying social norms and sharing a valuable lesson; your work does not define who you are. When I look back now, I realize I was also doing something else-- telling people who I am. For people I may not have kept in touch with after my move to Winkler, or for those who thought they knew who I was, I was re-defining their image of me in their mind. Regardless of what people knew, I was redefining myself as a humanitarian.

Defining who you are to people is an interesting thing-- from first impressions based solely on your looks to only having a brief conversation, or to generalized assumptions taken to the extreme because of one fact people learn, it's definitely something that has been of great interest to me lately.

One thing I have learned over time is that while you can choose what you put out there of yourself to show to the world, the world will attach itself to various things. These things might be exactly what you'd like them to be, and then again, they might attach themselves to things you don't necessarily agree with or place as much value on.

An example of the above, and in my opinion a perfect example, is my total of five months with Not For Sale. While there you live with people, start to work with them, and get to know them immediately. My time was spent focused on the professional, work aspect of the Fellowship. Keep in mind,  you are not only working with an entire staff and fellow fellows but also living with and literally 'doing life' with the other fellows. In these situations, and to a certain level, people can cling onto little facts that will show they know you (they listen to you, they are making an effort to become friends, etc). You may share a random fact or two and those facts become who you are...

For me in this situation the fact was that I like cats.
I have a cat at my parents house.
Her name is socks.
I think cats are cute, cuddly, and adorable.
You look at my Facebook wall from my time with NFS and...

An example of a post on my Facebook wall.
And while that's not a bad thing, it is certainly something that I reacted to in a few various ways: I thought it was funny at times, some what annoying and even heartwarming.

How did these people pick this one random fact to be their main point of "knowing me"?

While living with these fine fellows there were other things that stood out to them; my love of baking, my inner grandma, the fact that I love Jesus. But the cat thing was unlike any other.

To this day I still receive pictures and other hilarious articles to do with Cats posted on my Facebook wall. I absolutely love it now. It is more heartwarming than ever, never annoying, and always funny. It's nice to know that while cats were the random point of connection then, to this day the picture of a too adorable cat reminds them of our time together, working to end slavery.

My life with cats and cupcakes with NFS.

What is it about you that others tend to cling to when they think of "knowing you?" What do you think of the connection between you and that one "random fact?" 

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