When people ask, “What do you do?” the response given is usually a job title: lawyer, scientist, teacher, whatever. There’s nothing wrong with asking what someone’s occupation is — it is a basic question that usually gives some insight into what a person is passionate about and how he or she spends time – but work shouldn’t define you, even though it can feel as though everything revolves around it.
We are asked from a young age what we want to be when we grow up, already starting the trend. At only 18, we are expected to select a field to work in the rest of our lives. We spend a large portion of our waking hours working, scheduling every other event around those office hours. More often than not, people don’t get to have a dream job. We’re lucky to have a job that pays the bills and puts food on the table.
Now, however, recent graduates are hardly even finding jobs that can do that. We live with our parents in our childhood bedrooms or crammed in an apartment with four roommates and work in positions for which we would have been over-qualified for a few decades ago.
When we don’t have an answer to that dreaded question, it doesn’t define us anymore. Our goals aren’t solely career-oriented. We want to have jobs, of course, but we want to have a life outside work as well. Now we want to run marathons, travel the world, and help fix problems that are important personally. So the answer isn’t as straightforward anymore.
What do I do? I go through the motions and eagerly wait for the clock to read 5 o’clock.
Then I run on the boardwalk.
I sing loudly and off-key in the car.
I try to make my friends laugh by telling weird jokes.
How much time do I have here? I could go on, but you get the point. Who I am is not a “Marketing and Communications Coordinator.” I am a daughter, sister, friend, writer, laugher, traveler, beach and city lover, constant wonderer, Yankee fan, Broadway addict, and so much more.
Next time you meet someone, instead of asking them what they do, try a different question. How about, “What was the most exciting thing you did last weekend?” At the very least, the person will appreciate not having to say the answer already given hundreds of times.