Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"So What Do You Do?"

Whenever you meet new people the inevitable question is going to come up "So what do you do?" which translates to "What do you do to make money?".

From the time I was 18 up until two years ago that question never bothered me. I always had an answer to that question " I am a receptionist for a new home builder", "I am a data-entry clerk for a library furniture manufacturer", "I work in retail". People understood those answers.

Even the couple of years that I stayed home when Mallory was in elementary school, people understood being a stay at home mom.

But now...what do I say I do now?

Technically, I am a photographer. I do product photography for a furniture store for their website and Facebook page, and I do get paid for that, but what I do is so much bigger than that.

What caused me to start thinking on this subject is a statement from Stephanie Levy who is teaching the Wild Courage class I am taking. She says "I often wonder why it is so difficult for most artists and creative people to say - publicly and out loud - I am an artist or I am a writer or I am a photographer".

The answer for me is FEAR. The fear of explaining what I do, the fear of being misunderstood about what I do. The fear of not being good enough.

What tangible evidence is there of my work? I haven't won any prizes for my photography, I haven't written a book. I don't do portrait sessions. So how can I say that I am a photographer or a writer?

I am not doing what I do for the money, I am doing it because I love it. I have heard in a couple of different sermons this year something that really struck me. God is the master artist and creator, he gave me these gifts and passions that I have, to use and be proud of, not to hide under a bushel.

So I am going to look fear in the eye, gather my courage and start saying "I am a photographer, a writer and an explorer". Who knows what interesting conversations might come from that statement.

What are you afraid to say that you do?


  1. Oh so right Sarah I am in the same boat as you, I will follow your example and now call myself a creative photographer x

  2. For me it's the fear of not being considered good enough....

  3. I've never liked the "what do you do?" question at any point in my life -- whether employed, unemployed, retired, volunteering...I do many things and I am many things. I resist being reduced by that question. So here's an idea for a response when asked. "Right now I'm passionate about photography and .....(insert anything else). What are you passionate about?" It's interesting to see how people answer. And then you can have an interesting conversation about something meaningful.

  4. Yes, I struggle with that 'what do you do' question, too. Before I retired, everybody wanted to know, 'what are you going to do?' I had a plan, of course, but I struggled to say 'photography'. So, I 'get it'!

  5. Before I retired, I was an art teacher so that was pretty easy to answer. Harder now to say I'm an artist. I seldom do. When friends refer to me or introduce me as an artist, I always feel a slight flinch. But that's what I am so, Sarah, I'm an artist.

  6. I am a laid off teacher and I try hard to avoid having to explain my situation to anyone. Inevitably they will then ask why and how many years do I have in...
    I think you should come up with a cool title for the work you do that makes people pay attention. I am not creative or I would offer a suggestion.

  7. If only more people would do what they love...they would understand.

  8. Good for you Sarah! I also like Sherry's idea of answering with what you are passionate about! I love that you will say you are a photographer a writer and an explorer - and I am sure that you will have very interesting conversations with that! xo

  9. this really speaks to me, sarah. that's my fear, too, to say that "i'm a photographer". it almost embarrasses me, like i may not be taken seriously. i'm getting better at stating it, but still kinda blush once the words are out.

  10. years ago someone dear to me told me when i was in the same predicament of wondering what to say when someone asked, "so, what do you do?" {which i've always hated and forever have wanted to say…none of your GD business} to answer with, "whatever i want to do." AND OMG…it works. i have used that so many times and the look on their faces is priceless!!!!