When you meet someone for the first time, do you find yourself falling back on the social/professional norm of asking, "So, what do you do?" or, "Where do you work?" The latter doesn't get used quite as often as our careers are so transient these days, and the logos on our paychecks change as often as once a year. (That speaks volumes, but for another post.)
We find ourselves lazily going through the motions when we go to learn about and interact with another person. How else are we to come to conclusions and identify (or label) what they are about? When we ask, "what do you do?" it is inferred that we're referring to their profession. Depending on who you're asking (whether a mom "professional domestic administrator" or a jet pilot) you'll get difference responses. Most of us play along, answering what helps the other person "get" what we're about, "I'm a lawyer for so-and-so," or, "I work for Disney."
I struggle with this constantly because I do so many things. But what am I? Who am I? These are deeper questions worth considering, but the conclusion I come to over and over again is that I am who I say I am, and I do what I want to do. Now, that may sound totally narcissistic, but if you think about it, it is so true. We just get lazy in our language, and in our loving and connecting with others.
I am a writer. I am a consultant. I am a designer. I am a web developer, a graphic artist, an illustrator, a painter, a cook. I am a relaxation specialist. I am a driver, a walker, a dog lover, a wife. I am a Florida resident, a female business owner, a tenant. I am a BMW-enthusiast, a warm-weather junkie, a beach-goer, a swimmer. I am a happy person, an inspirational speaker, a consoling friend. I am a straight-shooter, a no-B.S. adviser, a learner, a giver of joy.
The next time you get asked, "What do you do?" answer them in style so they really get what you're about and see what happens.