What Do You Do?


So… What do you do?

Posted by imamberbug

When you meet someone for the first time one of the first questions you will likely be asked is, “What do you do?” In most cases a person will respond with their current occupation- they are a student, a doctor, a lawyer, a sales clerk, etc. Why do we find ourselves asking or being asked this question so often? According to Chris Carlsson in his book Nowtopia, “Our jobs inform assumptions about where we live, what we are able to buy, what we ‘earn,’ what our tastes are, and so on” (9). With that being said, is that really who we are? Are we simply defined by what occupation we hold in this consumer-driven society?

No! It’s not just about your job, but who you are and how you act as a person. Your religious beliefs and your viewpoint on politics (or lack there-of) are some of the most fundamental basics of what defines you. Your hobbies, age, sex, race, ethnicity, and so on are all contributing factors that define who you are. It seems pretty silly that we let our jobs define us as a person when you could safely say the majority of people do not love their job and are not super passionate about what they do. Hell, we all need a paycheck and got rent to pay (well, most of us) but no one thing should be able to define or sum a person up! With the way our minds work it is so much easier for a person to think in terms of schemas or stereotypes. We are bombarded with so much information every day that it is damn near impossible to absorb everything we see, smell, taste, touch and hear. It is much easier to stereotype a person than to actually see them for all of what they are. I am a woman, a daughter, a girlfriend, student, housekeeper, a Christian, a Libertarian, tall, athletic, white, loyal, popular, outgoing.. and you’re starting to get a better picture of me now, right? I am so many things and my job is just one small aspect of what makes me who I am… and I can’t even say that that is actually a part of who I am, it’s just what I do.

It seems that our jobs hold the most weight in a society that is so bent on consumerism. Advertisers tell us what we should wear, the car we should drive, the kind of home we should own, and so on. It appears as though we are constantly trying to keep up with the Joneses! My economics professor told me last semester that a person’s most valuable commodity is time. We sell our time for money or goods and once that time is spent we can never get it back. So why do we sell our time to a job we hate? Chris Carlsson gives precious insight, “The vast majority of us have to sell ourselves to a paid job in order to survive and it is precisely at that point of sale that we relinquish control over our lives” (11). What we do with what little time we have on Earth should be spent wisely. Spending quality time with your family, friends, and doing what makes you happy can be achieved without spending money. Don’t be a slave to the almighty dollar! Going to the beach, taking a hike, playing some boardgames and when that gets old make up new rules! Sitting in the park with friends or alone on your lunch break, even just spending time talking with the ones you love can be fun and quite cathartic. Too much time is already wasted chasing dollars and doing things we hate at work. Maybe it’s time to consider spending some of your free time chasing your dreams and finding your bliss!

One thought on “What Do You Do?

  1. Sorry for chiming in late~ I have been pretty busy…This was so well written and very thought provoking, Amber! For me, asking someone what they do is pretty much an opening for conversation. I think most people like to talk about themselves and inquiring as to their profession seems to be a good way to begin.
    Of course, I agree that your profession doesn’t define who you are, (altho a lot of people will say that most men are!) I think of people as multifaceted beings. More crudely, like onions… You peel away at the layers to get to see all the different aspects.
    Speaking of earning those paychecks… I was most miserable in the job where I earned the most money. I was at my happiest in my last modest-paying job! Being in a creative field where I was knowledgeable and felt appreciated was a real joy to me! I also enjoyed the benefits of paid holidays and vacations with a nice bonus at Christmastime, so there were some perks. I remember one gal who was often late for work, actually complained to me that it was hardly worth it for her to be on time due to her low wages! But didn’t she agree to work for that wage when she was first hired? Yes, she did! It was a relief to see her go!

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