Friday, November 27, 2009
What Do You Do?
Ah, the ubiquitous getting-to-know-you question of choice for Americans. I always find it somewhat difficult to answer in a way that I find satisfactory. It isn't so much the question that bothers me, as the implication and assumption behind the question. In many ways, we are defined by our jobs. How you pay the bills is treated as a core part of your identity as a human. That's never been a notion with which I've been entirely comfortable. I first saw this comic when I was in high school. It resonated deeply with me, because of how it unapologetically rejects that assumption.
And yet! Forty hours a week is a long time to spend doing something you hate. I've always been fortunate enough to hold jobs from which I got something more than just money. Tutoring, childcare, working in a Halloween store, wildlife rehabilitation, veterinary assisting, art modeling... they've all been something more than just a paycheck to me. Though I've certainly been more enamored with some than others, none of them were simply selling myself for 8 hours/day, 5 days/week, at $X/hr. As such, I generally like talking about what I do. Whatever it is I'm getting out of it, I'm happy to share those experiences and insights with others. I find more and more that a substantial part of getting-to-know-you conversations involve a lot of me talking about art modeling.
It's a difficult balance for me to strike. I don't want to embrace the assumption that what I do defines who I am. The reality is that it's me, the complete human, who defines what I do.