At social functions, people like to start a conversation by asking, “What do you do?” Many of us automatically respond with our occupation. This is typically because corporate America has conditioned us to organize people into a social hierarchy based on their job title. However, usually your job doesn’t define who you are as a whole. You might also be a rock climber, have children, love traveling, or volunteer at a therapeutic horseback riding facility.
If you’re at a party or social function and don’t feel like talking about where you are in your career, talk about something else! Think of other things that you are passionate about that you could relate. For example, if you recently started taking kickboxing classes and you’re loving it, tell a story about that. It’s also always great to talk about your goals. Even though you might not have reached them yet, ambition is always admirable and even inspiring.
Your job and your passionate work may be two separate things. Your job may give you financial security, whereas your passion hasn’t become lucrative yet. That doesn’t mean you have to keep your passion a secret! You might be a musician playing a few gigs a month, but your job as a receptionist at a hotel is what pays the rent. At social functions, tell people about your passion. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t achieved fame and fortune – you love it, and you’re on the right track!
It’s unhealthy if you find that you struggle to carry on a conversation without talking about your position or don’t have any interests besides work. Develop meaningful relationships and connections outside of the office, and find new activities you enjoy that provide meaning for you. Be open to new people, activities, and possibilities. Try out that painting class, join a gym, or find a social group via Meetup.com or another network. Slowly push yourself outside your comfort zone.
The next time someone asks what you do, answer with your passion. Not only will this alleviate your anxiety, but it makes conversations more interesting. Your excitement will captivate your listener and create deeper connections. Ask your listener to share their passion too. You’re not defined by your job because there is so much more to you.
Alison Rollins is Vice President of Marketing at Petite2Queen. She earned her master’s degree in Global Entertainment & Music Business from Berklee College of Music. An experienced marketer, Alison is an expert leader in social and digital media. She’s a talented videographer, with an extensive portfolio of thought-provoking work. At Petite2Queen, Alison focuses on meeting the diverse needs of women at all stages of their lives.