Tell Us Who You Really Are

by Nate St. Pierre on October 19, 2011

I was talking to one of the programmers at work yesterday, and he mentioned that he’d like to be better at getting his message across and speaking with less jargon. I tried to acknowledge his point without making it into a big deal, so I said “It’s okay; you’re an engineer.” He looked back at me and said “Actually, I’m not. I’m an artist.” I asked him what he meant exactly, wondering if he viewed his code as an art form, but it turns out he was being quite literal. Evidently he’s a sculptor. Not only does he do it for fun, but his college degree is actually in sculpting. Programming is just something he picked up on the side. He happens to be good at it, so he uses that skill to pay the bills.

This got me thinking about the labels we use to group people into a certain category, and how very wrong they can be. So today I want to ask you a question: Are you consistently labeled in a way that’s not accurate? When people call you _____, how does it make you feel?

I’ll go first. When I work at a “real” job, I’m usually in the Marketing department. It’s a good fit for me, and I do my job well, but whenever people label me as a marketer it makes me wince. Most of the time when I think of marketers, I think of people who put a (possibly false) positive spin on things in order to sell more stuff. And of course that’s not me. I’m a builder. I create things that have never existed before, in many areas: technology, processes, and people groups. To call me a marketer almost feels like an insult. And yet a part of me is, and so the label is technically true, if not fully accurate.

What about you? Tell us who you really are.

(Image source: lostajy)

  • I love this kind of identity questions. Each of us are a whole bunch of things, with one or more labels being predominant at a certain moment. When you work as a marketer, one of your many labels is marketer but that doesn’t mean you can identify much more with being a builder, or a father, or Love Drop team member… or lots of other stuff 🙂

  • Peliroo

    First of all, I’m going to refer to you as “My Marketing Friend, Nate” from now on. 😉

    I’ve done several jobs that don’t describe who I am. My resume is very unusual. I’m lucky enough to have one now that is close to a part of my personality, but it’s only a portion of the real me.

    My title is “photographer”, but I am really a naturalist, analyst, and artist. I have been like that from age 4. I have a BS in Biology with a focus on animal behavior. I am also a science geek and love, absolutely LOVE analyzing things, systems, data, people. I was in the military intelligence field as an analyst and felt comfortable doing the job because it is basically detective work on a grand level, but being stuck in a windowless room is a death sentence for me – I love working outside.

    In my spare time I am also an artist. I draw, paint, and make jewelry when I have time and energy. I’ve been drawing since I was 5-6. For a short time I painted murals to pay the bills

    More specifically to your topic. (and a topic I talk about with other moms) when I became a mother, all of those labels faded into “mom”. It was a good and bad thing, and a hard transition. Harder because I was always wearing a uniform that described by sight, my rank, job, and specialty-something I was proud of. I always wonder if other moms (especially prior military moms) felt that.

    A side topic, Nate, you mention labels and I also think of names. Last names, nicknames, etc…

    I like to ask people what they wanted to be when they were young, or ask them what they did for fun as a kid, and I see that I get close to that person’s true personality. I wanted to be Robin Hood.

    Sarah Corrice

    • Please don’t refer to me as that, ha.

      Mike and I were actually talking about you the other day, and the huge variety of things you’ve done in life. Very, very cool.

      You’re right, when you become a parent, that pretty much sums up your life for a while. 🙂

      And I don’t think I ever wanted to be anyone when I was young, hmm…

      • Peliroo Corrice

        Haha!  Thanks. I know I’m lucky but there are always trade-offs.  Little stability and some envy of people with a solid love-filled family base, like you guys.  But it makes me who I am, so I’m ok with that. It’s all good. 🙂

  • Emily Hornburg

    I get this all of the time. It kind of goes along with the whole church worker thing. I mean… think of pastors. They are hardly ever just… who they are. You have to put “Pastor” in front of it. A lot of times that happens with youth ministry too. While I don’ t have “pastor” in front of my name – once I tell people what my job is it’s like they have a whole definition of who I am because I work at a church. I always joke around with my friends when I go on vacation, or even just take a rare day off that I’m so excited to be “just Emily” that day. Because even when I leave the church building… I’m still “Youth Minister Emily”. It’s exhausting when you run into church members at the grocery store and the mall. 

    Yeah… my job is youth minister. I hang out with teenagers for a living and teach them about Jesus. All of that is true and part of who I am. But it’s only PART of who I am. I’m also an actress. A singer. A story-teller. A reader. A writer. A friend. A daughter. A sister. A cousin and granddaughter.  I’m really silly and ridiculous. I’m also overly emotional. (And a Love Drop Team member like Esther, ha ha.) I need to be doing something at all times. I don’t do well just sitting around – unless it’s reading a book which I can do for hours. I blog. I take too many pictures. I’m from Chicago and love the White Sox. In my head, life is a musical and I know all of the songs and dance moves (now if only everyone else knew them too….). I love Jesus. I love to dance in my car and belt at the top of my lungs on long road trips. 

    Need I go on?

    • I love this, Emily . . . I get so excited to be “just Nate” too sometimes, because so much of what I do is public, and people assume that that’s who I am. Yes, it’s a very true part of who I am, but as you said, it’s only a part. I’m so much more than the ISWU/Love Drop Nate that everyone always sees.

      I think it’s important to have that sense of self, and retain it no matter what your job is. 

      And thanks for being a Love Drop member – our families always appreciate the gifts!

      • Emily Hornburg

        It’s crazy how some jobs become public figures. I know they told us this when I was in school and preparing for this job. But it didn’t really sink in until I was actually out there in the field. Because even if I’m with people in the community who aren’t part of my church… I’m still the youth minister.  So I’ve been learning ways and places where I can go to be “just Emily.”

  • In Dominican Republic, I am Timotheos, and the Dominicans came up with a saying that fits pretty well Timotheos aqui, fiesta aqui. In Haiti I was the pepe’ blanc (used goods, White Man)bringing in an average of 4-5 containers per month of used baled clothes, and boxed used shoes for the merchant market. In Panama I was known as a poet among the elite. I also was the first person allowed to take photos of all the canal zone properties (2000) that the Panamaian government eventually sold to the public. The pictures were taken on a sony digital mavica that used floppy disks. I had a geek partner who built a computer program that allowed me to load them in sequence. We formed a company there called Bienes Raices Point & Click S.A., my idea at the time was to sell the program to the big local realtors, because the Government did not want to let them into the zone fearing looting. We never got all the glitches out and my Panamanian partner was brilliant but paranoid. In the end I partnered with one of the most respected men in Panama Real Estate and we had a simple strategy that worked out fairly well. I would run ads to find properties as an American and Jaime would find the buyers. I sailed for a lot of years as a merchant mariner, I am a father of 6 children, with one of them being adopted after the Haiti earthquake. In 1981 I was in partnership with a bank in Texas in a town that when I came there I had 87 dollars and a pregnant wife and knew no-one locally, within 7 months I had a crew of 7 working with me renovating flip properties. I am a believer that if you believe in yourself and you know how to identify needs you can do anything. I had two restaurants in South Carolina, and put together land deals. Last year I invented a portable pizza oven that would get 900 degree temps and cook a pizza in 90 seconds. I would say I am an innovator and big picture thinker and have not touched upon the tough parts of my life lived so far. 

    Nate I have enjoyed my day spent with you and I have taken the liberty to share some insight into my life today because I really like the way you think.  I admire your style as well. Your blog is elegant and easy to enjoy. To the future I would like to see the Kahn Academy in the Haitian and Dominican public schools with the language problem being overcome with duolingo. I like that you want to change the world and I would not hesitate to confer with you on ways that would benefit the poor in substantial ways. We are on the cutting edge. I do not blog and I only have a facebook page, but if you would come visit you would see a real Haitian public school that has no books and often enough no chalk. You can see the lost hope on their faces. I can just imagine how that would change if we could figure some ways to get cheap laptops in their hands to have access to what is available online for free. 

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