What do you do
This is one of my least favorite questions when meeting someone new. What do you do? People are expecting a simple answer: I’m a nurse. I’m a doctor. I’m a secretary. I work for company X.
I’ve discovered that answering with “whatever I want” either elicits laughs or condemnation. Sometimes I say that I work from home and wait to see if the questioner actually wants more information. If I’m feeling conversational I say I’m a writer and editor who teaches classes at a local college. Usually though, the question peeves me and I say that most days I stay in my PJs until noon and then I contemplate a shower and going out for a latte.
Of course, some are going to tell me that I’m supposed to have my 30-second speech that tells people who I am, what I do, and why they should open their wallets and hand their money to me. Gag. I even know a lovely woman who teaches people how to do just that. Her speech must be working well because folks are lining up to hand her their money.
The question annoys me because no person can be reduced to a 30-second soundbite about what they do. I recently spent a morning with several ladies whom I had never met, and I learned much about each of them. I did not ask any of them what they did. I still don’t know what they do. I do know about their children, travels, hopes, desires and worries. We shared life stories, both funny and tragic. We learned to respect and cherish each other’s humanity–our occupations were of no importance.
I can’t tell anyone in 30 seconds what I do. Which part of my day do they want to know about? The reading, researching and journaling part? The writing for clients part? The writing my book part? The gardening part? The answering curious questions from LivePerson part? The teaching part? The editing part? The corresponding with like-minded folks part? The caring for critters part? The social commentary and criticism part? The prayer and reflection part?
I can’t tell you what I do. But I can invite you to share in a conversation that gradually reveals who I am.