I dread being asked “What do you do?” There is something about this question that makes me want to crawl into a hole. The answer should be save the world or create world peace, but let’s be honest, the Nobel Prize team is not going to be knocking on my door any sooner than the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes team.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled to talk about design (and sofas and colors and...). Talking about family living turns me from normal to nerd in half a second. I am now lucky enough to be pursuing something that makes me tick, that keeps me awake at night in a positive way, that creates energy rather than sucking it…You get what I’m saying, right? If you don’t, let’s definitely talk about that.
I get it. The right answer is always your job title. But what does that tell people? Aren’t we all multiple-hat wearers? Like almost everyone else, I parent. I volunteer. I read. I get lost on the internet. I cook. I shuttle kids everywhere. I bake. I listen. I talk. I do dishes. I do lots of laundry. I travel when I’m lucky. I walk the dog. I party plan. I mediate. I photograph. I could go on, but I think you’ve got the idea. “What do you do?” is about the most ill-defined and ill-targeted question ever. Sure, you could answer in the traditional way with your job title, but what fun is that? Especially when you are a tax lawyer. (No offense intended to any tax lawyers reading this, but as a former tax lawyer myself, I know that answer is a total conversation killer.)
Answering “what do you do?” with “I’m a decorator” doesn’t actually answer the question any better than “I’m a stay at home mom” or “I’m a doctor” would. There are a million kinds of SAHMs and a million kinds of doctors, each of whom "do" different things every day and have very different skill sets.
How about we change the question? How about instead of asking each other what we do, we ask each other what lights us up? Not only is this a more interesting question, I guarantee it will start a more interesting conversation.
I'll start. What lights me up? Helping parents help their kids exert independence and control over their own rooms and play spaces. Helping moms and daughters work together to create a bedroom they both love. Creating that just right family room or workspace or drop zone that says home to its owner every time she opens the door. These things that light me up are the reasons I do what I do. The paint and the pillows and the sofas are just lagniappe.
What lights you up? Don’t worry. I promise not to tell if your first answer isn't saving the world.