February 13, 2013

I enjoy life (and help others do the same)


"What do you do?"

The short, relatively harmless, exhaustingly common question that can shatter an ego and send self-confidence running for cover. At least it always did for me. But I vow that not now, nor at any arbitrary point in the future, will I allow this simple, shallow question to perform its charade of power and influence over my life. 
The thing about this question is that people are expecting a particular answer; one filled with nouns and adjectives, not verbs as "do" itself may suggest. The question-asker is 'just being polite', albeit nosey as it may seem, trying to stir up conversation and common interests with a stranger. But I would argue that as humans in general, we have thousands of commonalities and only very rarely does one's specific job title or description find a match. Yet that's one of the first things we want to know upon meeting someone new. 
We could argue it's because we spend so much of our time doing this particular thing; it's our livelihood and a bare necessity, and in theory it's something we have worked hard to achieve and base plans for the future on. However, we spend roughly the same amount of time each day asleep, and roughly an equal amount with our families, friends, eating, driving, practicing hobbies, sitting at the computer, or in front of the tv. But who cares about those things? Those aren't things that quite define you like your job title, or place of employment, or salary- ironically, all of which are things created and distributed by someone else. 

I am so. over. that. 

I sat at my desk yesterday, anticipating the pending conversation with my supervisor that would involve me saying out loud plans, dates, and details about a future that wouldn't involve my current job. And I looked around the room at people I have seen on nearly a daily basis for six months and realized I couldn't tell you much about most of them. I knew their title, how long they had been at the job, and what projects they are currently managing but I couldn't tell you their favorite food, their children's names, if they are married, widowed, or divorced. I couldn't tell you where they were born or what their favorite subject was in school. And as an irreparable people-person, this devastated me. 
Looking forward, preparing ourselves for a new city, new friends, new work places, new hobbies, it's likely we will be asked this question frequently. And I simply want to have a really good answer; one that will catch people off guard, direct the conversation in a more meaningful way. Our counselor gave me an awesome example that he says he has always 'wanted to use', just to see people's reactions:  

What do I do?  Well, I enjoy life and help others do the same.
Now that's a conversation I want to have!  
What is your answer?


  1. What do I do? Talk to my husband, hang out with my cat, indulge in an endless amount of hobbies and read all the time because my life is my education.

    I love this post, I feel exactly the same way. This is so well put. Thank you.

  2. Amen! I always tell people I am a writer and an artist. Because I am. I just don't make any money doing it (yet). :)


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