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Discuss: Titles of Nobility

Earlier this week, Kat over at Corporette asked an interesting questions: Would is more important a higher salary or a better title? 

Lord knows, D.C. is a city obsessed with titles.  Whether you are a Junior Lobbyist, an LC/LA or the Acting Deputy Assistant Undersecretary for the Navy, the title on your business cards matters. 

Personally, I loved being a Hill Staffer.  I am not nearly as enamored with my current title of Federal Liaison, which is just a fancy way of saying Lobbyist.  Blech.

But outside of the work environment, we also define ourselves using labels and titles.  I am a Westerner, a fashion blogger, a former beauty queen, a Bronco Fan, a big sister, etc. 

You ask me who I am and I define myself by my location, my accomplishments, my relationships and my deeds. And this got me thinking about today’s question for discussion: What title is most important to you? 

Perhaps for this exercise, we could accept that titles like Mother and Wife need not apply.  Not because those titles are not important, but because they are of such monumental importance that nothing else can compare.  I’m much more curious about other pseudo-honorifics whether they be Marathon Runner, Southerner, Virginia Tech Alum, Olympic Gold Medalist, etc. 

Basically, I want to know what one title/label you think of first or are most proud of being.

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  1. kme says:

    Engineer.

    By education, not by trade, and I worked my butt off for that degree. While I'm not in design and I now only tangentially use my degree, the fact that I have it is incredibly important to me and I'm very proud of it.

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  2. CatG says:

    “Was it Kierkegaard or Dick Van Patten who said, “If you label me, you negate me?”” – Wayne Campbell

    I am shocked that someone would choose a better title over a higher salary though, unless they are planning on job hopping and hoping the better title at the last place will land them a significantly higher salary at the new place.

    March 23, 2012/Reply
  3. Shannon says:

    I never cared about titles. Well, except for, Person Who Graduated with her College Class' Average GPA…to four decimal places! I'm an ace at academic mediocrity.

    I find it odd, though, how many women when asked to define themselves, will go straight to Wife and Mother. Most men I know are like, “I'm Bob, an Accountant, Presbyterian, who likes tacos, and I'm married with two kids.” They don't let marriage and parenthood be the sum of their identity.

    March 23, 2012/Reply
  4. Joanna F. says:

    I agree with the first post, to an extent. However, I'm not shocked at all that someone would take a better title over a higher salary — especially in this city where salaries are low in comparison to other metropolitan cities like New York and California. The economy was really tough when I graduated from law school in 2010. The only thing available to me was a low-paying legal assistant job at a really awesome place. Rather than leave, I negotiated a different title (attorney-advisor) because I knew that it would be a great stepping stone to my next job. So for those of you in a similar situation, don't be scared to ask for that bump in title (after you've been offered the job, of course).

    March 23, 2012/Reply
  5. No Drama Mama says:

    I agree that I would always take money over title.

    But the title I'm proudest of is attorney, because the bar was f*()#ing hard, man.

    March 23, 2012/Reply
  6. Ms. C says:

    Self-sufficient.

    As a child, it's the one laurel I always wanted and, as an adult, the caption I am most proud of. If I had a personal business card, it wouldn't read Ms. C, attorney or Ms. C, triathlete, or even Ms. C, wife and homeowner; It would without a doubt say Ms. C, self-sufficient. For me, that says it all.

    March 23, 2012/Reply
  7. Melinda says:

    I think it would be volunteer. I am most proud of giving back where I have received.

    March 23, 2012/Reply
  8. Broncogirl says:

    Mom! Before I had kids of my own, I thought women who said this were hokey. Now I get it. Best and worst (I have teenagers) job I have ever had, but also the one with the most at stake. Wouldn't trade this title for the world!

    March 23, 2012/Reply
  9. Hokie says:

    I must admit, it made me smile seeing that you wrote “Virginia Tech Alum,” because that is probably my proudest title. Next would have to be a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma. I am also a runner and a volunteer.

    I would take more money over the title – the title will come with hard work!

    March 23, 2012/Reply
  10. BN says:

    Californian

    Despite all of it's problems, and regardless of where I live, work, own property, or travel, I am proud to hail from the Golden State.

    March 23, 2012/Reply
  11. X.F. says:

    Floridian (I somehow feel it's important to demonstrate that not everybody from the state is insane)
    Mexican (I distanced myself from this label growing up, I wanted so badly to just be “normal” and I used lie about my heritage. Now I embrace my history and culture and will soon proudly carry the title of Mexican-American when I become an official citizen.)
    Advocate (for my work in policy and fighting for progress)

    DC does love it's titles. That and acronyms.

    March 23, 2012/Reply
  12. Anna Louisa says:

    This one isn't the most important to me, but I'm pretty proud of the fact that I was an All-American in track and field in college. You'd never guess with my nerdy job that I used to be a jock :).

    March 23, 2012/Reply
  13. DC says:

    Californian!

    March 23, 2012/Reply
  14. anon says:

    Penn grad. That's my proudest one (outside of wife/mom, which you took off the table). I'm just about to age into the place where I'm considered a subject matter “expert” in my field. I think that one will take some getting used to, but I think it will be another one of which I am particularly proud.

    March 24, 2012/Reply
  15. AnnS says:

    Texas Aggie.

    March 24, 2012/Reply
  16. S says:

    Sister, friend, (soon-to-be!) lawyer, and Eph. Usually in that order.

    March 24, 2012/Reply
  17. Mom In Heels says:

    Graduate of a women's college.

    But really titles are ridiculous. I am a Senior Program Officer at a government agency. That hardly conveys what I do, the amount of hours it takes to do it (we are tlking sacrificial weekend hours here) plus the behind the scenes rainmaker stuff I do.

    So the great thing about titles is that you usually get to define them!

    March 24, 2012/Reply
  18. Lurker says:

    How I see myself: Lawyer, mom. Not to knock you, Belle, and I know you're proud of it, but former beauty queen is very polarizing title… Just sayin'.

    March 24, 2012/Reply
  19. aw says:

    Contractor/consultant. I like distancing myself from my government clients.

    March 24, 2012/Reply
  20. Belle says:

    Lurker: Former beauty queen is only polarizing if you're in the business of judging an entire group of people based on the worst examples. Many successful, powerful women are former beauty queens: Oprah, Diane Sawyer, Halle Berry. Yeah, I'd hate to be counted among their company, that would be terrible.

    March 24, 2012/Reply
  21. Gina says:

    Interesting topic! For myself, I'd go with these: Writer, University of Kentucky Alum, Southerner, Kentuckian.

    March 25, 2012/Reply
  22. Lurker says:

    Defensive, no, Belle? Of all the women you've held up, not a single one highlights her 'former beauty queen' title or use it as a term to define who she is. Do you hear Oprah bragging on her “former beauty queen” status? Or does she emphasize how she's a poor black girl from Mississippi who has used her gift of oratory and empathy to change people's lives? Did Halle reference her pageant days when she accepted her Oscar? Does it come up in Halle interviews about defining moments or things that have made her who she is? Nope.

    That said, DO YOU, Belle. If beauty + queen is how you want people to see you, that's plenty fine.

    March 25, 2012/Reply
  23. HM says:

    Statistician. It's really vain and petty, but I love the look I get when I tell people I have the title; That look that some people give you when they think you are much more intelligent than they are… well it makes me happy even if it is not true. Maybe it is because a teacher in high school told me I wasn't smart enough for college. Now I have more education than she does.

    March 26, 2012/Reply
  24. Kelso says:

    I can't be defined by a handful of words.

    March 26, 2012/Reply
  25. Alli says:

    I label myself first as an attorney, though somewhere lower on the list I also have former beauty queen. Lurker: frankly, I have found that more people are polarized by the former than by the latter. During my time in pageants, no one ever told me a joke about how much everyone hates me, whereas yesterday I was the unwitting recipient of “What do you call a bunch of lawyers skydiving? Skeet practice!”

    P.S. If it is not common knowledge, skeet is where people shoot at clay disks to practice their marksmanship. Southerner is another one of my labels. ­čÖé

    March 26, 2012/Reply
  26. Belle says:

    Lurker: Actually, if you watch Oprah's Master Class special, where she discusses the trajectory of her life and how she ended up where she did, she spends a good ten minutes talking about why she entered the pageant, how she won, and that because of her win she ended up with her first job in radio. She then talks about how had she not made the decision to enter the pageant, she would not have discovered her true career path.

    Diane Sawyer also does appearances with Miss America contestants and their charity arm.

    March 26, 2012/Reply
  27. RB says:

    Carolina girl, Tar Heel, Pi Phi, Southerner, (almost) attorney, sister, aunt, Liberal, Democrat – I am very proud of all these titles!

    March 26, 2012/Reply
  28. LPE says:

    American.

    No other title could ever become possible, for anyone, were it not for the freedoms which that title grants us.

    March 26, 2012/Reply
  29. anonymous says:

    That's a little dramatic, LPE. I mean, I'm proud to be American, too. But you make it sound like people from other countries/cultures/nationalities can't have any of the titles or opportunities people listed above. And if you're anywhere outside of this country, saying you're American can be WAY more polarizing than being a beauty queen or an attorney. I was studying abroad when Bush was president and backpacking a lot in Europe and I used to be embarrassed to tell people I was American because of the rude comments I would get. Obviously I got over it because this is my heritage and I wouldn't want to come from anywhere else, but let's keep some perspective, shall we? Just saying.

    March 26, 2012/Reply
  30. K says:

    SCIENTIST!
    Southern, Gator, Advocate, Volunteer, Friend, Floridian, Nerd, Marathoner, Baker. Loads of titles, for loads of different scenarios and various aspects of myself. And in this town trading for title (when increased pay is often not on the table) is smart. I am always suggesting this to women I mentor. If you are stuck in a bad or stagnant situation,grow your resume by negotiating increased title and responsibilities.

    March 28, 2012/Reply