I’ve Had Enough of Society’s Definition of “Professionalism”

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At the tender age of 16, I was just a fledging entering the hospitality industry. The next moment, I was harshly reprimanded by a customer who was obviously in the wrong and yet, there were no other options for me but to apologize profusely.

Afterwards, I ranted to my co-worker about the whole incident and all he said is, “A hostess is not a respectable job.”

Being a hostess during that period gave me more than I could ever ask for: The ability to be more articulate and communicate effectively. The confidence to speak to complete strangers and maintain the conversation without being overly awkward. The ability to multi-task which I have always struggled with previously. And most importantly, overall job satisfaction.

Just try walking a family in, keeping an eye on available tables, while simultaneously checking on occupied tables and then making a mental note to clear them later. You would understand exactly what I mean.

Working in the service industry should be something everyone should try once in the their lifetime. Even if the job scope doesn’t sound spectacular and glamorous, you would definitely be more appreciative and understand the importance of having good manners. That sounds to me like a respectable lesson to learn.

What classifies as a respectable job then? Could it be a job which requires a college degree or specialized knowledge? Or “professional” titles like doctor, lawyer or engineer? The more “professional” your job title sounds, the higher the chances of you being envied and respected by strangers who may not understand what you are exactly doing—superficial, but at the same time, stone-hard reality.

According to Career Trend, jobs can only be determined as professional if certain skill sets are needed which often involve academic prowess. On the other hand, unprofessional jobs are repetitive and require manual labour. In fact, most jobs which are classified as professional by the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics do require an associate degree or higher. Whereas, those deemed as non-professional normally does not require a college degree and on-the-job training are often provided.

As my research continues, it gets increasingly frustrating and demoralizing to realize that we all unconsciously are subjected to this ridiculous, unspoken standard in society that, other than being in those certain “niche” fields, there are no other ways to be deemed a “professional.” Isn’t that equivalent to telling people to stop trying and simply submit to the fate that their professions would never earn the respect it should deserve?

The job scopes and duties of a hostess may be commonplace and repetitive, but the feeling of exhilaration is undeniable. I was feeling more than prepared and even excited for any challenges despite how insufferable they can be. I gained recognition for my job performance as a hostess and was acknowledged for my work ethic.

Work can be a source of essential elements in life: the ability to grow, a sense of purpose, self-esteem and most importantly, self-respect. The most vital factor of professionalism is having self-respect. One of the main reasons why people stopped believing in pursuing their passions, and stop believing in themselves, is because of how society perceives professionalism. Seriously, stop belittling yourself and start respecting your career, no matter what it is. Be proud of what you are doing and own it.

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