Who Are You? Like, Really?

There are a lot of boring people in this world.

There it is, I said it. Trust me, I’m in sales. I get paid to meet people, and I have to say, there are just SO MANY lackluster people. I’ve always been a firm believer that there is something beautiful and interesting about everyone… but I started noticing more and more that I was having more interesting conversations with my water bottle than some humans.

That bothered me. Like, a lot. How is it possible that such an advanced sect of living beings could be described as “boring?” The thought itself seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? The human race is incredible; look at how much we’ve accomplished and created throughout our existence. I just couldn’t accept the thought. So, I decided to do some investigating. Thanks to my mother, Dear Watson, I think we solved the case.

I was working out of my mom’s office a few weeks ago, and a man came in who I hadn’t been introduced to. We did the small talk officey intro stuff, and he went on his way. Pretty run of the mill “this is who I am, this is who you are, etc.” He finished up his business he had with my mom and left. Nothing to write home about.

“So mom, what does he do for y’all here?”

“He runs operations. (pause) That was an interesting way to ask that. Most people would have said ‘Who is he?’ to illustrate the same thing. I like the way you worded it; it makes it more human sounding.”

BOOM. CRASH. BANG. I was flabbergasted. I’d never even thought of it that way, but golly gee is she right. When we meet someone new it usually is some derivative of “My name is Tricia, and I’m a technology consultant/salesperson/Account Executive,” which is so NOT TRUE! That’s what I do, not who I am.

This thought was astounding to me. I started paying explicit attention to how people introduced themselves, how I introduced myself, and how they introduced me to others. In that one day work came up as an identifier 4/5 times. Where we lived came up 5/5 times. Marital status came up 3/5 times.

That’s when it hit me: No wonder everyone is so boring. If those are the only things we consider as options for individuality then how do we have any hope to be interesting at all? Yes, there are multiple job and location options, but we are ultimately boxing ourselves in to be a standard. An equation. Career + Location + Love Life = Personality. Now, I’ve never liked math, so I could be biased, but I think it’s utter hogwash. So, I changed how I started talking to people for the first time.

“No, that’s what you do for work. I mean who are you?” (Insert “wat” meme here.) Most people honestly don’t know how to answer. I mean, would you? If you’ve been characterizing yourself by the Boring Equation for 20 years, how do you answer it any other way?

You know what it did though? Drastically minimized the amount of boring people. I found myself in thought-provoking conversations. Learning things. Genuinely laughing. What a concept!

With the world becoming increasingly connected, the lines between personal life and work are fading, and if you’re not careful, it’s almost impossible to distinguish the two. We spend the majority of our time at work, so of course it’s going to come up. But it’s not who we are. It’s what we do.

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A Native Texan now living in the magnificent New York City, Tricia Howard is an artist gone rogue who ended up in the wonderful world of technology. With a B.A. in Theatre Arts and interests ranging from Star Wars to Opera, she brings a unique and artistic perspective to her clients and the tech world. When she’s not solving business problems, you can find her singing, painting, and doing copious amounts of jigsaw puzzles.