You meet someone new or maybe you run into someone you haven’t seen in a while – usually the first question that gets shot your way “what do you do?” or “what are you doing now?”. And you know they aren’t asking what you do for fun or what you do on the weekends, it’s all about what you do and where you work. I have always felt uncomfortable (but uncomfortable also isn’t really the right word) answering questions like this, half because (so I am often told) that I am humble (and charmingly awkward – I tell myself this one) but half because I have never felt like what I do defines me. Also, what I do these days is super complicated, but that’s another story all together. I have always loved what I do for work. And yet I still have never felt comfortable answering this question, outright with a straight answer (or a straight face).
I always answer “what do you do?” with a quick short descriptive word (lately it’s: “I freelance”) and then if they want to know more they will ask (they often don’t and that’s totally cool). Thinking back on these conversations I notice I always talk about projects, things I’m working on or things I’m working towards rather than “job title – company”. It seems to steer the conversation into a more meaningful direction (if they are into it, again cool if they aren’t) and there is often more common ground that is found and much more room for learning about the person (them learning about me and me learning more about them).
Does your day job define you? I highly doubt it, how do you feel about this question and how do you usually answer it? It seems to be a run of the mill question, one that isn’t offensive (at all, I’ve asked it many a time too) – but I’m just thinking maybe there are better questions to ask to begin a conversation or better ways to answer to give a fuller picture. What do you think?
*I also find (just an odd little observation) in parent groups or when meeting new moms, this question rarely ever comes up. Maybe because we all already know what the most important job that we hold is.
On another but also sorta the same note: After I received such awesome feedback from the survey you guys did – last month, I don’t think I said it yet (seriously summer just puts my brain in a fog) but THANK YOU so much for those of you who took the time to take it and leave such thoughtful answers. I am trying to work towards flushing out some of the awesome topics you’d like to see more of. One of them a major one that came up, was that many of you are going through a career change, going back to work after kids, or trying to find yourself while at the same time becoming a parent – advice, guidance and inspiration was heavily requested. I am trying (in my foggy summertime brain) to get together a series (or a single post, just in case I’m biting off more than I can chew) that hopefully will offer different view points and maybe some inspiration around this area. With all this being said, maybe you guys can help me…..have you gone through a career change or know someone really inspiring who has?