This is where it’s so easy to get stuck. That moment when they ask, “What’s your job?” or “What do you do?” can cause me to flip through the files in my mind, searching for an answer that I think will satisfy this dreaded question. It has never worked. Instead, I have always ended up feeling pretty awkward. Until recently, when I realized what they are really asking.
Why does it seem so difficult to describe your job?
Why do we often feel uncomfortable, unsure, incapable or awkward when asked this rather routine and socially acceptable question in conversation? I often wondered what made me stumble all over myself to find the answer and why I usually failed to come up with one that explained what I do when I’m doing my work. What was so hard about it?
Here is what I think usually happens to many when asked, “What do you do?”
I think that what happens is this: We don’t believe that what we do is valid. Now, you are probably asking the same question that I have had to ask myself, which is, “Why would I think this about my work?” I have a few theories, but in my case, the one that seems most likely is that I don’t do just ONE thing. I don’t have a singular focus and in my mind that causes people to see what I do as less than valid. It isn’t that I think others will see me as less intelligent because I am not a critical care nurse or neuro-surgeon or history professor…I just think that the efforts of those who have a variety of interests (usually creative-types) are not taken as seriously as the efforts of those who have chosen more specific (or perhaps more recognized) careers.
What is he/she up to these days?
This is what I think other people wonder about those of us who have experience in several fields. For the majority of people, earning a living is about finding a specific thing to do and doing that well until they retire. I want to be more like that, I really wish I could be like that, but I am not.
I work as a copywriter, voice actress, actress, and singer. I work online, as well as offline. This is why I feel intimidated when asked “What do you do?” or “Where do you work?” I don’t have that one or two or even three word answer. I can’t easily state what I do in a single sentence…or can I?
The difference between your job title and what you do.
It took me a while to realize that your job title is not what you do. I had to learn that when asked, “What’s your job”? what they really want to know, what they are actually interested in is, “What do you do?” It has been easier to approach my reply from this angle and develop much more interesting responses, such as:
- “I put words to work for those who have something to say.”
- “I give voice to stories and messages worth hearing.”
- “I make clients sound good!”
- “I help others to write it like they mean it!”