Recently, models Karlie Kloss and Miranda Kerr have both been quoted as saying they don’t identify as “models”. When asked, Kerr says that she has her own skin care line, and Kloss says that she has “yet to determine what her job actually is,” despite the fact that she’s on track to make Forbes’ list of highest paid models for 2014. And while it may sound like both beauties are suffering an identity crisis, experts agree that not introducing—or identifying—yourself immediately as your profession might be a positive thing.
“Identifying yourself by external factors, such as what you do, rather than what you like, could be a sign that you’re overly focused on the role you play in your life rather than your experience of life,” says Leslie Becker-Phelps, Ph.D., a psychologist and author of Insecure in Love. As an experiment, the next time someone asks what you do, check in with yourself before answering. Are you focused on how the other person will react, or are you gauging your response based on what you think they want to hear? This could be a sign that you may be overly reliant on outside approval, warns Becker. Of course, that’s not to say you should deny your career or alma mater—after all, they’re a huge part of your life. Not only that, but feeling pride when you mention something you worked your butt off for is totally normal, reminds Deb Payne, Ph.D., a Texas based coach.
RELATED: The Victoria's Secret Core Workout
Think your intro needs tweaking? “Make a list of all your positive qualities, or even have a friend help do it for you,” suggests Becker. And leave specific titles and accomplishments out of the mix. Start with the big attributes—like being a good listener, a great sister, a serious yogi—and then add the quirkier elements that make you, you—like the fact you’ve helped three different friends change a flat tire or can hold a handstand for four minutes. This list not only reminds you of how awesome you are, but it also gives you new introduction options for the future so the next time someone asks you what you do, you’re ready to talk up the latest book you’ve been reading or your new interest in Irish history.
Finally, instead of falling back on the “what do you do” question yourself, have a few different intro questions in your arsenal. Asking what someone did over the weekend, whether they’re watching the World Cup, whether they’ve tried a new café in town (essentially, anything not on their LinkedIn profile) allows you to truly see whether you have a connection with them. This also gives the conversation a chance to go much deeper than comparing resumes.