On Christmas Eve, my family engaged in a particularly competitive game of Taboo. This isn't surprising considering my husband and his four siblings can make anything super competitive. (I’m an only child so I don’t get it, but I do my best!)
It was my nine year old niece’s turn. When the timer was flipped she looked at her first card, thought for a second, then gave a clue: “This is something Ramona does.” Her team members immediately starting shouting out guesses:
It turns out the answer was “pen.”
I was on the opposite team so I couldn’t guess. I sat back laughing until my face hurt, watching our family frantically try to remember all the different jobs and hobbies I’ve had!
This funny incident has been on my mind lately because I’ve attended a few functions recently where I’ve gotten the question “What do you do?”
Ever since I left my work in veterinary medicine, I’ve been more aware than ever before of that question and my response. It used to make me self-conscious because I know people are going to judge me based on my answer. Now I usually say something like "I do a lot of things. Are you asking me what my job is?"
As I’ve moved through the past three years trying different jobs, I learned what I don’t want to do more than what I do want to do. As I’ve made my happiness a priority (work related and in regard to relationships and other interests) The Universe has noticed and guided me toward a life that is more focused on what I enjoy instead of what I “should” do. But that’s not easy to sum up in a quick answer to a four word question!
For a decade and a half, I worked as a vet tech and wrote on the side as a hobby. Now, I write for work and volunteer at the local animal shelter. Everything is still there but my priorities have shifted and my quality of life has improved.
I see my current job as a Karmic reward for following my heart and striving to increase my happiness. It’s never been more clear to me how each thing I’ve ever done connects in some way to the next. If I didn’t play roller derby, if I didn’t befriend my teammates, if I didn’t blog and share it on social media, if I wasn’t honest about my journey to pursue a more satisfying line of work, if I didn’t do any one of those things, the connections would not have made it all the way through and I never would have found my job.Or rather, my job wouldn't have found me.
When I meet new people, I’m often interested in what they do for work and for fun as well. If I want to know about a job, I come right out and ask “What do you do for work?” but I’ve started looking for more creative ways to learn about someone I’ve just met. “What do you do for fun?” is one of my favorites. I also like “Where did you grow up?” because almost everyone has strong feelings about their birth place. I ask people if they have pets or what their favorite book is, because those are both topics that are important in my life, and I like to connect with people about them.
We all do a lot of things. Work is one of those things but it’s not the only thing. It’s not what defines us. Maybe the line of work you've chosen says something about who you are as a person, but it might not. What you do with this life you've been given speaks for you, not what you do from 9-5.
So the next time you want to ask someone what they do for a living, stop and think about how you want to present that question. Chances are there’s something else you’d rather know about that person. And if you genuinely want to know what that person's job is, just ask!