Back in 2010, I still had no idea what I was doing in my career. (Source: Supplied.)
“What do you do?”
I hated that question because I didn’t have an answer. And if I did have an answer I often felt embarrassed about it because I rarely had a career path that I was happy with.
I knew I wasn’t alone in this, too. None of my friends knew what they were doing with their careers and it was a cause of guilt and stress. We all had degrees which was already a huge head start and privilege. And yet, we either struggled to find jobs in our field of study, or had realised after three or four years of uni that we would be terrible architects/speech pathologists/designers/etc.
We were ready to step out as independent adults, but our lack of full-time jobs or direction meant that we were still living at home with our parents… who asked us variations of that question: “What do you want to do?” and “Are you going to do anything?”
Jessica Rowe, and the advice she would like to share with others. (Post continues after video.)
It’s a funny little question. It’s often used as a way to get to know someone, or to fit a new person into a category in our heads. In my early 20s, that simple enquiry of what I “did” felt like it would expose everything about me – that I was unsure, possibly failing and not really wanting to do anything significant.
One of the most popular questions that we ask young children is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Now that I’m a mum, it surprises me how early we can place expectations and ambitions on children.
Since my daughter was born, people have asked me what I think she’ll “do” for a career. Considering she’s still wearing nappies, I think it’s reasonable that I don’t have an answer yet.
For more inspirational stories, look no further than these books. (Post continues after gallery.)
There have been times in my life when I’ve wanted a career path and a chance so badly that I’ve cried. Then, there were periods when I didn’t have any ambitions and I was content to work to live, rather than live to work. Yet the question of “what do you do?” still rattled me because each time I answered, it seemed to reveal a personal flaw.