It’s the Great American Question: What Do You Do?
We encounter it at every turn. In some countries its “where are you from” or “what’s your family name” – in America it’s the preoccupation with what we fill ours lives with, usually in reference to gainful employment.
How do you answer the question? Do you assume the person wants to know your profession? Do you ask why they’re asking? Do you respond with a volunteer or non-paid activity? Do you go farther with the topic than a flat response? And do you return the query?
Do you know how to talk about what you do in a creative and thought-provoking way? Too many people preface it with “just.” As in, “I just stay home with my kids” or ” I just sell insurance.”
Just schmust. By using that word for your work and time you’ve downgraded the importance and value of it. That’s counterproductive and bad for everyone.
When I run into someone who teaches for a living, for example, I may get “Oh – I just sub.” Having taught professionally in the Public Schools I can tell you there ain’t to “just” about it!! Hell, the full timers can’t get by without substitutes. In fact, I subbed for two full years before I had my own classroom. A qualified and adept substitute teacher is worth their weight in beer. Those who get it, know. Those who don’t , deserve to have to fend for themselves with no help.
Being of the working class, I often get asked what I do. When I share, I deliver it in an engaging way. It helps that many folks find the combination of women + beer intriguing. I don’t take it for granted though and treat every first time ask as an important one. It matters not if you’re in the car business, a teacher, plumber, or consultant. Speak proudly of your work and others will rise the the occasion.
I’d suggest you get rid of “just” all together unless you’re talking about the law.
I’ve never heard a pro brewer, maltster or hops farmer say ‘I just grow hops/brew beer/make malt.” They’re proud of what they do and rightly so. Consumers need to adopt the idea that their opinions matter remarkably, especially new market share entries like many women.
Time is highly valued and to denigrate what you may choose to do. Using these four letters in this particular order when describing what you do is, well – just too bad.