“What do you do” – Why is that a scary question

“What do you do” – Why is that a scary question

Glasses are clinking, kids are running around, and the men are crowded around the grill.  You are holding a glass of wine, because it’s something to do with your hands and someone, you think they are the wife of a friend, comes up to you to introduce themselves.  It’s going great and then she asks the question you’ve been dreading, “What do you do?”


As a writer, or as a my friend Kristen Lamb would call us, “pre-published authors,” I’ve made the unconventional decision to pursue my dream of writing for a living.  What a quaint idea. 🙂  If you’re like me, you’re thinking about how you’ve loved books for as long as you can remember.  You are thinking about how you might sit in class and daydream about a story, maybe not even realizing that you are crafting a story in your mind when you’re supposed to be studying some equation, but it’s as real to you as anything else.  You can make jokes with people that you “hear voices” and that’s ok, and you can argue how you get frustrated with a movie’s plot or characters.


I have decided that traditional careers weren’t for me and decided to give this writing thing a shot.  But how do you explain that to someone in casual conversation and why do I feel the need to explain why I’ve made that decision?  Do you know what I mean?

Why are we so sure that our identities are tied to what we do for a living?  And if that is the case, are you that person who is proud to say what you do for a living is who you are?  Deep thoughts for this Friday, sorry. 🙂

I wanted to announce that my website has be remodeled and wanted to give a huge “THANK YOU,” to Brittany Dawson on all her help to get that done.  🙂  I hope you like it!

6 thoughts on ““What do you do” – Why is that a scary question

  1. In the above context, “a living” refers to a profession/job. The truth is, you do not do just one, but many things “for a living”. You are a mom, a wife, a teacher, an entrepreneur and a writer. Be proud of that as they are truly important accomplishments.

  2. Awww, thank you so much for the shoutout!!

    I understand to a certain extent what you mean about being nervous when someone asks “What do you do?” A lot of people don’t understand why I’ve chosen to continue working as a freelance designer instead of getting a “real job” somewhere. But everyone is different and what works for some doesn’t work for someone else.

    Do what you love. I don’t think our careers define us, but our passions do. If you’re a writer, be proud to say that. It means you’re a creative spirit with a vivid imagination and you love sharing your stories with others. 🙂

  3. It is a terrifying question! I think unfortunately many people are immediately labelled as ‘being’ their job – that is, that is ALL they are. If you have an interesting job, well you must be an interesting person. And if you work at the corner store – well you work at the corner store. Sad but true. I have an interesting job now that raises eyebrows, and yet when I worked in retail I used to see the expressions I get “is that ALL you do?”
    I think saying you’re a writer is a fantastic job, by the way 🙂

    1. I appreciate that! I’m very curious what you do? I know that people are good at giving others labels, just wish that wasn’t the case and also wish that we didn’t tie as much of our self-worth into our professions.

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