Andy Smithson wonders what would happen if we got honest when we answer the question, “What do you do?
Think about the last time you went to a party or just met a new person in an elevator, at church or while shopping. Was “What do you do?” one of the first questions that you or the stranger asked?
The question, “What do you do?” is a social icebreaker. It can be viewed as simple small talk, a social “sizing up,” or as a genuine opportunity to learn about another individual. Any way you look at it, our understanding of the question “What do you do?” and our almost immediate response is to tell what we do to make money.
Answering the question “What do you do?” with how we make money tells little of what we really do, who we really are, and what we really value, because how we make money does not give us value. I’ve talked to stay-at-home moms who feel awkward responding to this question because they don’t make money. But what they do all day is much more definitive of a person. It has value far beyond what most of us fill our time with, or the money we make in the work force each day.
What if we answered differently?”
What if we changed our response? What if we answered it honestly and unassumingly? What if we answered by saying what we do that is most valuable to us or most defines us, rather than answering with what our professional occupation is?
Would it change how we viewed our lives and experiences? Would it change our priorities? Would it alter and possibly even change the societal implications and assumptions behind such a question? Would we connect differently and see each other more honestly and clearly?
Who are we?
We are parents. We are husbands and wives. We are brothers and sisters. We are friends. We do so much more than just work and live. When asked the ‘icebreaking question’ tell about what you do that makes life exciting, happy and beneficial to others. If your work is part of that, great, share that too, but let’s not reduce ourselves to cogs in a machine. Next time, answer with what you really do and see what their response is. Then invite them to honestly share what they do.
What do I do?
I fall in love with my wife a little more each day. I play legos as often as I can with my boys. I piggyback my kids to bed and tell them stories about their grandfather they never knew. I tell them about how I met their mom. I write a blog and poor out my heart in hopes that it may be of help to someone that is struggling. I participate actively in my church and try to serve the lord. I love the snow and play in it every chance I get. I sit along the Snake River on summer evenings and think. I sing Broadway show tunes because I love their stories and the resonant sustained notes they contain.
These are just a few of the things I do. What do you do?
Question: Share with us your answer. What do you do?
—Photo James Shield/Flickr
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