So, what do you do?

Hi yall, what’s good? I’m over here curing a stomach bug and wandering if this article will make sense when it’s all said and done. But here goes nothing.

House of Slaves

In January last year, I went on the best mission ever, since working at my current job. It took place in Dakar, Senegal. I was so worried about this trip. I was having major FOMO before I even took the plane to get to Dakar.

What if the work load was so big, I couldn’t hang out with my girll Ouly (girll what’s good?), once I got there, and ended up missing all the quality time and fun. Granted it was a work trip so the goal was not to get some quality time in but girl you knowww.

Never mind all that, that Dakar mission was a success, both on the professional and quality time fronts. It was a success because I allowed myself to live a little and sacrifice a few hours of sleep for some memorable moments, one of which was a gathering amongst friends and cousins of my friend. I had to introduce myself at the beginning of the evening or at our 1 am crazy lit gathering (it was lit!).

When people introduce themselves to one another, the question that is often asked is, “so, what do you do?” Ironic that at social gatherings, the first answer people think to give is one related to their jobs. As if what we do for a living can be used to give a proper account of who we are and what we like.

One of the guests at our little partay of 8 answered, I am a painter. And I thought… okay, not the answer to the question. I could also say random things like, I am learning to play the guitar, or I skate, as an answer to “what do you do?”.

When it was my turn, I proceeded by saying I work in disaster risk management on the continent. Immediately after that, I fell into silent reflection about my answer. What would I have answered, had I been in between contracts or simply unemployed? Why was it so strange to hear the answer of the first guy who had introcuded himself?

What I am trying to say is that, the question “what do you do?” is often asked to determine who a person is when people are introducing one another. Why then has it become customary to reply to this question with a description of what you do or did for a living?

I could think of better ways to ask this question, or rather ways that would allow one to get to know another person better, ways that would really allow someone to introduce themselves.


  • What do you do… in your spare time?

How addicted I am to watching movies that make me feel. Feel what? Giddy on the inside, in the mood for love. Movies that make me believe. In possibilities, in the daring dreams I harbour. How I also love to read, about history, and Sophie Kinsella characters. How I love to sing, listen to music, sleep, and don't even get me started on improvised photoshoots ^^.

  • What would you be doing if you weren’t working at your current job (former job)? This may give insight on the person’s satisfaction with the time spent doing whatever it is they do.

To this, I would answer, in my third year of uni, I decided I wanted to work in development. Doing exactly what? I don’t know, but I work in development now. So, I guess, this is what I would be doing.

But my world is far from being black and white. Sometimes, I feel totally misplaced, confused with what it is I am doing, and then I remember my love for writing, and singing and wander what days spent doing these for a living would look like.

Those are just two variations of the question at hand, but don’t they offer so much more?

And while these alternative questions are definitely not readily asked, shifting your answer in that way, if you so wish, is always possible.

So, what do you do…in your spare time?




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