It’s so commonplace. I’ve been asked this hundreds, probably thousands of times. And there’s a good chance I’ve asked it an equal number of times.
But until I saw this video, I never thought of it as offensive or snobbish.
Asking each other what we do for a living is something we do almost automatically upon meeting someone new. But as I have sometimes noticed, it can be awkward when you don’t have an impressive answer to give. That one question and its answer immediately sorts us into a hierarchy.
Who has the more interesting or prestigious job? Who makes the most money? Ultimately, who is worth talking to?
So many of us participate in this, but I think most of us would also say that what we do isn’t all that defines us. It’s not the source of our worth, it’s not what makes us worthy of love. So why do we keep asking it? And why do we answer it in a way that attaches our identity to it so intimately. “What do you do?” “I am a (insert job title here).”
I for one don’t want to contribute to this overly status-conscious trend anymore. If I’m asked, I will not say, “I am a writer.” I will say, “I write.” What I am cannot be quantified in one neat and tidy word. Who I am is greater than what I do.
How to tell if someone is in Harmony with their own Life:
3 Principles for Right Livelihood: 1. Do what you love—if you’re good at it.
Author: Kathryn Muyskens
Editor: Catherine Monkman