After I quit my job last year, I found that conversations with new people were suddenly ten times harder than they were when I had a job. I have to admit that this was a side effect that I wasn’t prepared for. The change in finances and how I spent my time were things I was prepared to face. In fact, those were things I had talked about with my husband before making the final decision. How to make small talk with a stranger – I wasn’t prepared for that one.

I bet that at this point you’re wondering why small talk changed so much after I quit my job. Let’s go through a typical “introduction” conversation and you’ll quickly see why small talk became such a problem for me.

Introduction conversations typically go something like this – introduce your name, talk about where you’re from, and then the inevitable question of “What do you do?” always seems to come up. When I was working, it was an easy answer – “I’m a teacher” – that typically led to further conversation about my job and what I loved about it.

It was a simple answer and I never really thought about the significance of it. Then, I quit my job and the question came up. I’m pretty sure I just stared into space hoping that an answer would appear in front of me. I still identified as a teacher but wasn’t working. I was a blogger but at the time, I wasn’t making any money from it. How was I supposed to answer the question of “What do you do?” And that’s when it hit me – we’ve all been answering this question wrong for so many years because it’s how we’ve been conditioned.

For some reason, we’ve been conditioned to identify ourselves by our jobs – even if we don’t like our job. “I’m a teacher” or “I’m a cop” are the common (and expected) answers to this question. But what if we changed how we identify ourselves? What if we started answering with our family roles, our hobbies, or other things that define us? How could that change the conversation and our perspectives?
I want to challenge you to change how you respond to the question “What do you do?” I want you to answer with the things that define you besides your job. (If you love your job, go ahead and include it in the list but don’t make it the first thing!) There’s so many other great things about each and every one of us beyond our jobs.
Let’s take a moment and practice our new answer together. I’ll share mine at the end of this post and I’d love to hear yours in the comments below! Then, share this on your favorite platform and encourage your friends and family to change the way they answer this question as well. We really shouldn’t be defining ourselves by our jobs and careers.
Here’s my answer. Don’t forget to share yours in the comments.
I’m a blogger, writer, crafter, dog lover, and happy military wife that follows her own path in life.
How are you going to define yourself?