Tell me a little about yourself
Ask anyone in the UAE to introduce themselves, and the standard response is a career summary, writes Maya Itani.
March 6, 2013 12:11 by kippreport
A deceivingly simple request, but the question is: how does one begin to answer that?
The default instinct is to start with our jobs: “Hi, my name is Maya, and I work in marketing.” A straightforward way to begin, but for most of us the problem is that the introduction ends there.
Ask anyone in the UAE to introduce themselves, and the standard response is a career summary. I am no different, and as I found myself continuously trying to grasp at a definition of who I am to answer this simple question, I kept coming up with nothing more than what I do. My job title had become my badge in life.
I starting wishing I could introduce myself as a saxophonist. Or a sailor. Or anything remotely unrelated to my job. But I couldn’t, because the years I had spent laying a foundation for my career were years I had forgotten about everything else I loved outside of marketing. Volleyball. Writing. Acting. All hobbies that had been a major part of my life prior to my first job. All things I had thrown out the window because I was convinced that my energy should be spent on being one thing: a marketer. That was who I was. That was all I should be.
I didn’t learn anymore. Well, at least not outside of brand tonalities and consumer insights. I didn’t learn for me, I didn’t learn for the pure pleasure of trying something new. I needed to be an expert at one thing and one thing only. Who wants to be a jack of all trades after all, especially if those trades don’t actually make you any money?
I do. I want to be mediocre at many interesting things. I’m tired of being one dimensional. I’m tired of introducing myself with my job title.
My new outlook can aptly be summarized by a quote from Thomas Huxley, an English biologist, who said, “Try to learn something about everything, and everything about something.”
In today’s society we’ve managed to excel at the latter, but totally ignore the former. Ask yourself this: when was the last time you tried something for the first time? For so many of us, the sad answer is “I don’t remember.”
Maya Itani is a former brand manager at a multinational consumer goods company. She left the industry to co-found The Curve (thecurve-me.com), an online marketplace for adult classes in Dubai. She is still struggling to write a bio that doesn’t include her job title.