“What do you do for a living?” Ah, yes. The dreaded question we all face when on disability. Even more so if we are enjoying ourselves at an event. OH-MY-GOD! What do I say?
“I’m retired, ever heard of a little thing called Yahoo?”
That was my immediate answer that caught people off guard, then to guide the conversation in a new direction I’d follow-up, lean in, and faking a loud whisper I would say;
“I’m really a kept woman, my man doesn’t want anyone to know.”
Then wait, (pregnant pause), I look at the face that asked me the question and start laughing, and the rest would join in. It worked like a charm. The topic was closed, and my secret was safe.
What you do for a living is your identity. But who you are, as a person is not defined by what you do.
Going to a social event doesn’t mean you need to be an open book. You were not invited because everyone is interested in hearing about what you do for a living. When’s the last time you asked someone what they did for a living because you wanted to hear a laundry list about their specific job responsibilities? Probably, never! This question is a pleasant enough conversation starter but really, no one is dying to know ‘the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’ behind that innocent question.
Now, having dealt with this issue for over 20 years, I have come up with a few different answers. (Some fascinating answers!) Since starting this blog, I can say I’m a blogger… no big deal. That is as far as it goes. If a person is interested, they may ask what I blog about, and I will answer chronic illnesses. Then it is up to them to decide if they want to know more. Nine times out of ten, they do not ask for additional information. The social event continues, and I am known as ‘the blogger.’ Let’s face it, when we feel well enough to be out socializing, the last thing we want to talk about is our disease!
So, let’s take the anxiety out of the dreaded question, “What do you do for a living?”
Practice your answer. That is all it takes, practice. Do you quilt? Are you a blogger? Maybe you are a crafter? Paint furniture? You may be an artist? What are you comfortable with as an answer? Practice. Practice. Practice.
The people who are IN your life know what you are going through. The people who WANT to be in your life will ask the right questions, and you can share that part of yourself if you feel safe. Strangers and acquaintances are owed nothing, but a kind answer defines the quality of your character. I’m not telling you to lie to people, I’m just encouraging you to do and say what feels right to you. Leave the anxiety at home and practice a few answers. Socializing should be enjoyable, and the ‘dreaded question’ need not be so dreadful.
“So, what do you do for a living?” (Practice in the comments section below!)
Live your best life!