our culture is centred around 'what' we do rather than 'who' we are. how many times have you been asked 'so, who are you? what kind of person are you?' if you’re like most people, then the answer is probably not many times. instead, we often get asked, 'so, what do you do?' even entry forms into Australia require you to state your occupation - why is this information relevant?
am i the only person who feels overwhelmed by that question? or who doesn't know how to answer it? since quitting my 'paid' job earlier this year, i've struggled with answering that question. what do i do for work? well, not much. but i feel i do a lot. but the problem is, it's a lot of unconventional, unstructured work. so who am i? am i a public speaker? a writer? a facilitator? a soccer player? what is my identity? it makes me feel uneasy when i get asked that question because my answer isn't straight forward - it requires explanation. but do people really care? do they really want to know? why do i feel uneasy talking about something i feel so passionately about? is it because we're only asked what our 'occupation' is; singular? as though we only have one thing we're good at - only one purpose? humans are more complex than how we've been conditioned to both ask and answer questions. a conditioning that is both limiting and futile. a conditioning that can make individuals feel inadequate because they're being judged on a singular component when the reality is, we are multi-faceted creatures.
so how do we overcome this? start asking expanding questions - questions that require reflection and explanation. questions like, what brings you joy? what makes you angry? what's your favourite part about the work you do? you'll learn more about someone by asking these questions compared to 'what do you do?'