What do you do?

This image is not mine, though I love the message it conveys. We are more than what our day job says. It is from https://journeyingbeyondbreastcancer.com/2012/06/20/and-what-do-you-do/

“What do you do?”

Such a simple sounding question.

The four little words that are meant to help us get to know people better.

How do we answer?

The majority of us answer with some sort of description or title from our place of employment, the work that pays our bills, the day job.

I am lucky enough to know a few people who identify differently than that. These lucky few get to identify as something outside of their employment.

One man is employed by an agricultural plant, yet when asked will respond that he runs a local non-profit that assists low-income homeowners.

I have a friend who is a professor that when asked will answer he is an artist.

My husband is an exterminator by day and will state he is a football coach when meeting new people.

A good friend of mine works in a library while launching a photography business.

I myself would identify as a writer, though that is currently not my paid profession.

As adults, we tend to fall into a rut, professing to be only that which is our occupation.

We remove the passion from our lives and replace it with the routine.

Have you ever watched a person performing in the area of their passion? There is a lilt to their step. Their voice takes on a different timbre. Their eyes hold a special shine.

Too many times in our society, we try to push these hobbies, these activities, these passions, from people’s lives. We tell people that their passion will not pay the bills. We tell people to “grow up.”

What is the cost of that?

I have seen someone who had that passion removed from their life for a season, though the decision was not their own. I have felt is personally as well.

The sense of loss is real.

The lack of identity is scary.

I left the world of newspaper behind, and for my mental health, this was the best decision based on the situation at the time.

I miss the newsroom. I miss my colleagues. I miss the pressure of deadlines. The discussions, debates, and arguments. I miss the feeling of accomplishment when the product finally falls together.

When I left, even though the decision was mine, I felt the loss. I was not certain if I would be writing anymore. I did not have a creative outlet.

I was lost.

This is what happens to people when the thing that they identify as is gone. They do not know who they are.

They are lost.

The outside world may not understand. As this is what “grown-ups” are supposed to do. “Grown-ups” are not expected to have hobbies that consume their minds, draw their attention, and sometimes eat portions of their funds.

What is the cost of growing up then?

I have one child who aspires to perform comedy. They want nothing more than to make people laugh. I have another who dreams of capturing beauty through the lens of a camera. Their desire to have people see the world they do is nothing short of magical.

Someone told them that neither of these choices are “real jobs” and that they need to get “grown-up” jobs and keep these dreams as hobbies.

The question I have is why?

I would love nothing more than to write all day long. Writing, reading, editing, revising. There would be nothing that would make me happier. (Especially if someone would pay me just to be opinionated, that would be a dream life!)

Why not encourage that in our children? Why not encourage that in each other?

Why not build a culture that encourages those who have a dream, have a passion, to be able to pursue it with reckless abandon?

Society as a whole is better when the people in it are full of life, full of passion.

To the dreamers, keep dreaming, keep pushing, keep following that dream. These day jobs won’t hold us forever, and one day, just maybe, we will be able to call our passion our day jobs.


  1. I am working on combining my passions. Few understand. Maybe one day I’ll get paid for it, or not. The sense of self I receive is the true joy of it all.


  2. Amen to following your dream!!! My ten year old wanted to be a makeup artist when she was 3,now she wants to be a wrestler. When she tells people that, they look at me like ” You’re ok with that?” No, I dont relish the thought of her possibly getting hurt but if it will keep a smile on her face for the rest of her days, I’m ok with that. Also, you’re right, we are not our employment. Well done.


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