It’s the question of the year right? Or the lifetime even. “What do you do?” You hear it the second you graduate high school “so what do you do now, college? Job?”, you hear it in college “So what do you study…what else do you do though…what are you going to do with that degree in what seems like (and essentially is) a lifetime away?” You hear it when you graduate too (I know through observation, and my own impulsive questioning and curiosity) “So now what? Same job you had before…new one in your desired career path…moving away…living at home?” and then you hear it for essentially the rest of your life “What do you do for a living…what field are you in…what’s your title/position?”. All of those are fair questions (I guess) and like I said I’ve asked them too. But When I ask them I don’t mean “hi, what is your day job and how do you pay your bills and survive this over-priced thing we call life” I genuinely mean “What do you do daily? What get’s you out of bed in the morning…what do you come home from work and give your last bit of energy to…and to whom…What do you do that makes this expensive life worth the cost?. I mean, I don’t ramble off all of that because I would sound insane (but I might start to) so expectedly, most people still either spit out a practiced line about their impressive job, internship, or major, and would add in their entire four year plan if you asked…OR they throw out something that sounds more like an excuse or a sore subject like “oh, well, right now I’m doing this but then I’m going to be a …(fill in the blank) or “I’m a student, still figuring it out” (even if they are essentially done with school).
Nobody really cares about those sorts of answers (that much). Impressive that you got that job, good for you, but me knowing all about it isn’t benefitting either of us. And on the opposite side…dude, I don’t care if you live with your mom and have no idea what direction your life/career/relationship is going, it’s all good and that’s not what I was wondering about. Day-jobs (even if they happen at night, whatever is your main source of income) are important, and if you love yours and that is what you choose to pour your passion and life’s work and goals for the future into, then by all means, knock yourself out. But for most people, day-jobs shouldn’t be defining.
I know babysitters, bus boys, waitresses, cooks, retail workers. I know people who work in labs, make coffees, make flower arrangements. I’m a student and a waitress, currently (not going to ramble about my overly ambitious and minimally organized and thought out 4 year plan for what will come after that). Want to know what those things say about us as people, our intelligence levels, talents, and passions? Slim to nothing. You could find out what we all “do” and you would know absolutely nothing about us. You’re not your day-job, but you are what you do everyday.
I have friends with so much talent, intelligence, and passion, and most of them can’t use any of those skills to make a living (for now at least). I know people who come home every day and make music, draw, design things, come up with crazy ideas, take amazing pictures, can dance, act, beat any of you at jeopardy, run, travel, do yoga, help people, love, cook, create things-whatever that could be. I write things, that’s my thing that I actually love for now. But when someone asks me what I do, I don’t say “oh I am a science major and serve pizza for the summer, but all I actually care about is experiencing life for all that it is and turning that into words that do the thing to people, you know? Oh and I want to save the world because bees are dying and everything is unsustainable and I have a plan (sort of)”
These people are some of the best ones I have ever met; The most inspiring, enlightening, and happy to be doing what they do (what they actually do). Even the people who do have fantastic and impressive “real” jobs, have little things they are actually doing it all for. Maybe they are in love, or love to garden. Maybe they are good at giving advice, they are well-read, or movie-coinsures. Maybe they have impeccable music taste or speak 4 languages or are writing a book you had no idea about. There’s so much more to us than GPAs, positions, salaries, and 4-year plans. There’s people to love, places to visit, things to see, things to improve, people to help, and an infinite amount of things to learn and life to be lived that, I’m sorry, but no matter what your day-job is…have nothing to do with it at all.
When someone asks you what you do, you can tell them all about sales and data entry, management strategies, and how “ahead” of the curb you are, if you want. But you can also tell them (and please tell me) what you actually do daily. If you take care of someone or something special, if you are learning about something new and enlightening, or starting a new hobby that makes you happy. They might want to know what sort of music you have been making or listening to, or writing, or art and they might want to hear/read/see it all. They might be curious as to what makes your heart happy and why you stick around here and where you want to go and where you have been. They might want to know what set’s your soul on fire and gets you riled up and sets you on a rant and makes you stand up. What you care about and believe in says a lot more about you than what you do for a paycheck. Oh and if both are the same for you, (which is obviously the ultimate goal… but I mean if you are a 20-something still and have life all figured out) you’re either confused, or doing something very right and should be the one writing about this to help out the rest of us (Please and Thank You). So don’t quit your day job. Work hard, make millions, be happy; But do beautiful things on your days off and define yourself by those things before the day job you might not even like.