So what do you do?

Published 7:06 pm Thursday, November 15, 2018

The grind is constant and it gets us all.

For some, work brings a sense of accomplishment and purpose. For others, it brings the security of knowing there’s a home to go to, that the lights will be on and there’s enough to eat in the fridge.

Day in and day out, we do what we do because the dollar rules the world. But at what cost to ourselves? How much does what you do for a living get in the way of who you are and what you really want to do with your life?

That’s not to say work is bad. Quite to the contrary, one’s work can be tremendously fulfilling. It can be an extension of one’s purpose. For many among us, it gives us reason to get out of bed in the morning. Earning money, likewise, can be a means to an end of pursuing the things that we want to do.

It’s easy to let work rule your life, but it doesn’t have to. Everyone on this planet needs an outlet to be themselves and express their identity outside of their job title. Maybe it’s being alone and curling up with a good book. Maybe it’s getting on a boat and chasing fish around the Pamlico. Maybe it’s turning the radio up and going for a nice, long drive with no particular destination.

Among the first questions Americans ask one another upon first meeting is the classic, “So what do you do?” To this question, we politely and automatically respond, “I’m this job,” “I’m in that career,” or “I retired from this industry.”

Somehow, our entire identity, and others’ perceptions of us, is tied to what we do to earn money.

Here’s how you throw them a curve ball and make it a more interesting conversation.

Next time someone asks you what you do, try throwing out what you like to do first, rather than what you have to do to make ends meet. Tell them you like to binge watch Oprah reruns from the late ’80s to laugh at the garish fashions. Talk about your interest in the paranormal, or your penchant for strange roadside attractions. Share something unique about yourself, and don’t stop pursuing whatever it is.

Every once in a while, it’s good to think about what you do, and what you really want to do. Chew on a few ways to bring these things into closer alignment. Instead of defining yourself by what you do to win the mad dash for dollars, take a walk on the wild side, and let everyone know who you really are.

The world might just be a little more interesting if you did.