What do you do?

For those of us who have a number of jobs, it’s tricky answering the simple question, “What do you do?” People like clarity and telling someone “what you do” helps them understand who you are and how you fit within the community. If you hesitate answering, you see them smile and take a step away. People who can’t say what they do are suspicious!

But what if you’re retired? Then you end up explaining “what you used to do.”

What if you don’t have a job? How do you define yourself then?

And what if you do volunteer work. Is that “what you do?”

And how about when the job you have doesn’t define you in any way? “Well, this is what I do but I don’t really like it.”

When people ask me what I do and they’re looking for a simple answer, I tell them I run programs for our library. This work helps keep my community informed, educated, and the discussion groups help keep them connected so I’m happy to say that. But I also run a theater group in Freeport. I write a blog. I do volunteer work with the Maine Historical Society. And I run an educational direct marketing class website.

To be honest, “what I do” with all of this, working with the public, with the theater board, with designers, actors, audiences, business people, and historians is build community. But if I told people that’s what “I do,” I’d get the “step-away” smile because building community doesn’t help them understand what I “do.”

And I think that’s good. I love having a mix of jobs, both paying and volunteer work, because I don’t want to be defined by the work that I do! So perhaps I need to give in and proudly say, “I build communities wherever I find them,” and leave it at that. Finding that common “nugget” across all my work has helped direct me when I’m prioritizing my time, and when I’m choosing new work to take on.

With everything you do in your life, do you have a common nugget that sums up “what you do,” knowing that this is less about the title of your job, or former job, and more about who you are as a person? Wouldn’t it be nice to have that in your pocket the next time you’re asked…

“What do you do?”

Sending you peace and love from the refrigerator section of the United States. I believe Alaska and Maine have now officially swapped weather. But this fern I shot today might tell you otherwise. She believes Spring is coming :).

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I welcome your thoughts and suggestions for future posts!



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