Saturday, April 12, 2008

....."and what do you do?"

Yesterday I posted about some new “conversation starter napkins” – featuring questions that someone (not me) might ask at a party.

Two comments were posted. One by Wendy (a friend since we were 14 years old and met working at our local public library) contained a confession that her greatest dread at parties is to be asked this question: "And what do you do?" Another comment by Julie (who I might or might not know) shows that she dreads that same question ““Well, I used to be a lawyer". As though what I've done in the last 20 years has no worth!”

These comments made me realize that although I am asking “quidnunc” (what next, now that the children are grown up) I really don’t always know what I “did” before. I was a woman who had choices – good educational opportunities, great ambition and excellent career options. Like many other women in my generation, we entered professions that had been male-dominated – and we worked hard to prove ourselves. Then – things got complicated (thanks children of mine) What did the arrival of children mean to our careers and our ambition?

I made the decision to work only part-time so that I could be with my children. Other women made different decisions. But – now 20 years later, I know I’m not alone in wondering if I made the right decision for me (or for my family). There just were not the same opportunities working part-time and I always felt that I was missing out. I always worked from the time my children were born, but everything revolved around their schedules. Now that the children are grown there are no more exciting opportunities – these rightly belong to the young hardworking women who have come along………

So now – all these years later, I can fully understand what Julie and Wendy mean when they say that they dread the question “what do you do?” The sad part is that I also dread this question: “what did I do?”


Anonymous said...

Interesting perspective on the question what do you do? I belong to a number of groups and there are people in the groups who have no idea what I do other than-play music, play tennis, knit, do publicity. Each group knows me for a different activity and often I don't know what the people I am involved with do. We just enjoy each other's participation in the activity.
Many people have never known what I did as profession and it is okay because it was not important or related to what we were doing at the time.
My main concern has been, do we enjoy each other's company and can we learn from each or benefit from each other's company. (I do not mean benefit financially although I know that there are people who build relationships on those terms.)

Anonymous said...

Yes, you do know me and have done so for about 25 years. Yikes!

Krista said...

Julie - I wasn't sure that was you, but i'm so happy you are reading my blog and know what I mean in this entry don't ya?? I'm worried that I won't make smart decisions about what comes next, given that I screwed up on earlier decisions...... it is hard growing up, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

I think that we should not second guess our past decisions. The passage of time gives us the wisdom to think about what we have done. We make our decisions based on what we know and feel at the time. As we grow from our experiences we understand what is possible.
None of us is able to make perfect decisions but as long as they are made with good intentions and not meant to hurt others they are the best we can hope for.
Enjoy the possibilities that are available and stop worrying about moving over for younger people. There is still room for us, especially since the baby boom generation is leaving big gaps in many areas and we have knowledge that has been gained from our many experiences.
Enjoy what is ahead and forget the regrets.
I just wish that there were more hours in the day for all the things I would like to do and still get the chores done.

Anonymous said...

Krista, our generation of women confuse what we do or did with who we are. We worked, raised children and believed we would do it better then our mothers. We set impossible standards for ourselves to be the best at our careers, the best as a mother, wife, homemaker, athlete, friend, sibling, daughter, etc. I have heard some of the women in my pillates centre brag that they go more often then anyone else. Where does this leave us? We question what we do or did when we are better off thinking of how much we have learned and still will learn. You are "doing" right now with your blog. You have made it easier for me to get through this awful winter and to get out of my head and see what others are thinking about. The next time someone asks you at a party, "what do you do?" say what ever the hell you want wihout feeling demeaned. I usually pick windsurfing rather then the whole career thing because frankly I don't give a damn if someone is a professional or what ever but am way more excited to find out what they are reading and tell them what I am reading. Linda