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The Dreaded Question: “What do you do?”

April has been all about putting ourselves out there. We’ve worked through how we feel about being seen, we’ve built social media accounts to share our work with the world and we’ve talked about the best ways to make those accounts work for us.  To end the month, I want to talk about putting ourselves out there in person… live, in living color!  How can we be more open with those around us and embrace conversations about what we do?  How can we become people who run toward opportunities to share our stories and our work?  It might be easier for some of us than for others, but it’s important for all of us.  I want to talk about why that is and how we can start, even if it’s hard.   (Remember, great things never came from comfort zones.)

2020 Esma Kirim

The details are what makes you unique as an artist.

Have you ever had a mild existential crisis when anticipating the dreaded question… “What do you do??”  Should I lie and say I’m an accountant because there’s no way they’ll ask me any more questions about my job? Or should I move the conversation on as quickly as possible to avoid further inquiries?  Rather than desperately wanting to run the other way or change the subject, I encourage you to see this question as an opportunity to put yourself out there. Look at it as a chance to talk about your creative work and why you are so passionate about it. It’s cool stuff, what we do, and most people are genuinely interested in hearing more, whether they’re artists too or they’re in another line of work.  Fellow creatives might want to share notes or get into a deeper discussion. Non-creatives may want to know how you got started.   It’s easy to resist going into detail when people ask, but the details are what really matter. The details are what make you unique as an artist. The details are why people will love you and your work.

There is MAGIC in watching someone light up while talking about their passions.

If you’re the type to get flustered when put on the spot or you’re just genuinely not sure what to say, think of a few things you can have in your back pocket if the conversation comes up.  What do you love most about what you do?  What has been the most interesting project you’ve ever worked on?  Are you learning anything new right now?  Having some ideas brainstormed in advance will help you feel more confident when speaking up.  Think of them as conversation starters, they’ll get the ball rolling and the exchange will guide the rest! Here are a few of my favorites:

3 Awesome Q&As for Any Social Situation

  1. Q- What are you?

A- I’m an actor, singer/songwriter, and creative business coach. 

  1. Q- What do you do?

A- I create original work as an actor/songwriter and teach others how to do the same.

  1. Q- How do you do that?

A- I draw on my own creative experiences and share my methodical approach in a relatable and meaningful way.

Think about the last time you listened to someone talk about something they love.  There is magic in watching someone light up while talking about their passions, isn’t there?  People can’t help but feed off of that energy.   It’s effervescent.  It’s human nature to crave connection and deep conversations. But if you gloss over it, for whatever reason, you prevent yourself from getting that fulfillment and you deprive others of getting to learn more about you.

You’re meant to find the people in life who will share and encourage your passions and love you for YOU.

How many times have you kept your passions to yourself? How lonely did that make you feel?  Have you ever wondered why your natural instinct is to keep quiet?  Why should you hide what makes you feel alive?  Be proud of who you are and what you enjoy. Remember, you’re meant to find the people in life who will share and encourage those passions and love you for YOU, but it will be tough to find those people if you don’t share things with them.   You might be surprised with who will take a real interest in you and your work.  That’s why you should share with everyone – you never know who will really jump in and join you on your journey.  A fellow regular at your favorite coffee shop?  A sweet neighbor?  Maybe someone in your kickboxing class?   Just like all of the other aspects of putting yourself out there, this one requires courage, personal growth and a little bit of gumption.  So start small.  If the door opens in a conversation, take a step in.  See if the small talk turns into big talk!   Sometimes it will and sometimes it won’t, but each time you engage in the conversation, you build momentum and become more willing to share again in the future.  Overcome your fears and take those small steps.  Find your community and share your passions.  I promise you, it is so worth it.

Have you been able to overcome your fears and share your story with anyone lately?  If not, can you think of someone in your larger circle who you would be willing to open up to?  Let me know in the comments and let’s get you out there.

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