What You DO for a Living is Not Who You ARE

We’re standing around the bar sipping beer and getting to know one another and - as it does when you’re in your thirties - the topic inevitably turned to what everyone does for a living. Around the group we had engineers, entrepreneurs, sales, marketing, and a variety of other gigs when someone asked the only person who hadn’t spoken up about their job. When he explained he worked in retail at a well-known clothing store, another member of the group asked my least favourite question of all: And what will you do when you finish school?

Someone once said that people ask others what they do for a living to size them up. I’ve always hated that, and we’ve all felt the need to make our job sound more sophisticated than it is, but there’s a simple fact that often gets forgotten: there is no such thing as a job too small.

While my new acquaintance awkwardly stumbled through an explanation that he graduated from college many years ago and happened to really enjoy his job, I cringed. I felt the same way when my waxologist informed me her last client had asked her when she was going to get a “real job” - a question asked by a woman who was paying her good money to tear her hair out. Think about that for a second.

Not everyone can do my job, not because it’s particularly sophisticated or technologically advanced, but because lots of people would find it exceedingly boring and tedious. Totally fair. I could never be a dentist, not because I’m not bright, but because the thought of looking in a person’s mouth all day makes me want to poke my eyes out. Similarly, I don’t have the organizational skills to be an administrative assistant, the patience or personality to work in the beauty industry, nor the aptitude for finance. It doesn’t make any other job “better” or “bigger” or “smaller” or “less than” - they’re simply different.

Personally, I’m grateful to the people who work in roles that I can’t or don’t - especially for those who work in those roles because they felt stuck, while they’re waiting for a chance for change, or those working their tails off to find their passion. I’m thankful that my hair stylist saw her skills and passion for beauty, my accountant realized how great he was with numbers, and the collection of professionals who keep my child engaged and safe at school all found their way to their current roles - no matter how big or glamourous.

When we look down our noses at jobs we’ve dubbed ‘less than,’ what are we telling our kids? That cleaners or security workers, continuing care assistants or administrative workers aren’t good enough? I hear it all the time: Stay in school or you’ll end up flipping burgers! Study hard if you don’t want to be cleaning up after the people who tried! How will our kids feel when they one day have the job we made fun of, looked down at, or snubbed?

Maybe my son will grow up and work hard as a cardiologist. Perhaps he’ll grow up and work hard as car salesperson. Maybe he’ll work hard as a nurse, a custodian, a cook, or a stay-at-home dad. What’s important is that he works hard, brings pride to his job every day, and treats others with dignity or respect because there’s no such thing as a job too small - only small views.


Ashley MacInnis is a public relations professional, writer, and mom living in Dartmouth, NS with her two kids, retired racing greyhound, and partner. 

Ever the storyteller, Ashley’s spent most of her life boring her family with long-winded tales and decided to put her passion to work by choosing a career in PR and writing. She’s had the pleasure of helping brands and individuals tell their stories to build businesses and reach new audiences and it never gets old. When she’s not typing away on her keyboard, you can find her wrangling her boys into a rink somewhere, running around the lake, or searching for the perfect pair of shoes. 

Follow her on social @imashleymi