When it comes to who we are and how we identify, our work often forms a large part of that identity. It helps us answer the question “what do you do” at parties and when we meet new people. When it comes to identifying with or as your job, however, things get a little more complicated. Oftentimes, people will identify with their day job which makes them more money, as opposed to their “side hustle” which they love. There’s this sense that we are disingenuous to label ourselves by our “side hustle” that we love instead of by our day job that pays the bills and we spend more time doing. That’s why this month, I wanted to post a blog about contextualizing our identities.

Identifying with your job isn’t inherently a bad thing. Work is honorable, and having your identity rooted in your job is perfectly normal. But we also often seem to feel more comfortable identifying with the job we have to do, instead of the “side hustle” that makes less money that we do simply for the joy of doing it. It feels almost like we are lying to people. This is particularly true of photographers and people in the world of art more generally. There seems to be a collective sense of imposter syndrome amongst those who make art. People who don’t run a full time photography business, or work as a full time photographer seem to be more hesitant to identify as a photographer instead of the job they do from 9-5 on weekdays. But there shouldn’t be anything wrong with identifying with your passion. Your identity is your own, and how you shape it is up to you. Because it is fine to identify with your work, but it should also be fine to identify with your passions.

Although identifying yourself with your work is important, it is no less important to contextualize your identity around your passions and not just what you do. You aren’t lying to someone if you call yourself a photographer if that’s what you do on weekends. Setting the tone for people by identifying with the job you are passionate about isn’t just important for others though. It helps you to identify and associate yourself with it as well. It’s important for you to overcome that sense of imposter syndrome, as that will often hold you back in your work, and can even prevent you from seizing opportunities which might potentially help you expand or grow your business. If you are only capable of seeing yourself in relation to your day job, then there’s a good chance that’s all you’ll be. If you can take hold of your identity though, mold it to what you want instead of what you tell yourself it “really” is, then it’s more likely to become your day job in the long run!

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