“So What Do You Want to Do, Exactly?”

If I’m unemployed (and I am) and you have a job, that question is the equivocation of approaching Superman with Kryptonite or a second-grader with the cooties.   I am already defensive and my will to communicate is collapsing.  Because whether intended or not, the question carries with it allusions of accusation.  The inference (to those with free time) indicates that I don’t have a job because I can’t cite, industry and title, the position that I want to have. 

Oh, if it were that easy.  If naming a job created a job, I would be a star on Dancing With the Stars.  (Or more realistically an editor of some description.)

But the thing is: IT’S NOT THAT SIMPLE.  Applying for jobs, especially in this economic atmosphere, is a lot like walking a tightrope balancing between being under and over qualified for every position.  With more than 5 years of work experience in an industry,  I’m over qualified for entry level positions that would take my career in a new direction.  I mastered the skills that are required of door-opening positions years ago, but I want to start something fresh.  Does my cover letter need a cover sheet?  And on it the emboldened message: Call me! Call me over a recent college graduate!  I have experience!  Which means that I applied here because I may actually WANT to do this! 

This is my most frustrating circumstance.



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3 responses to ““So What Do You Want to Do, Exactly?”

  1. jess G

    First I have to apologize to be one guilty as charged of posing this dreaded question to you. I can say with utmost confidence that I ask it because I care about you and want to make sure I’m not missing any aspect of your life! I can see how it is starting to rub you raw, and I won’t ask anymore.

    Ironically with your anguish to figure out (or feel like you should be figuring out) what it is exactly you want to do as it relates to income, I do not know one single person in our age bracket who has figured that out, job or no job. I mean, I feel lucky that I generally like my job but I just really don’t like to work! Once people actually start working we all wonder what it’s for. It’s like a prison. What it’s all for is to save for retirement so that at some point we can all do exactly what you are doing now!

    I don’t see how anyone could argue when after they ask, “What is it you want to do exactly?” if your response is, “What I want to do obsolete. What I AM doing is volunteering and whatever else I want!”

    The way I see it, you have it all figured out. Enjoy retirement as a young person. I’m telling you the Industrial Revolution ruined our souls. Just because young retirement isn’t the mainstream thing to do, don’t let the Western World’s traditional and socialized ways get you down. You might even figure out how to gather berries and hunt game without having the life sucked out of you by a 9-5 😉 That said, I’m counting down the 6 weeks until my annual retirement. If you want, I’ll come down and play cards with you, Ethel. But mostly, I hope you find peace. I hope you let yoga balance you and I hope you relish in the ability to smell the flowers on a Tuesday at 1:30 in the afternoon in the spring sunshine.

    • emcritt

      Do not fear, Jess! You are not the only person who has asked me what I plan to do with myself. Everyone asks. I don’t begrudge the people who ask the question; I know that they (you) ask from a place of kindness and interest. (And hey, I do my fair share of question asking, so I expect to answer some.) Even if I am frustrated by the topic, keep prodding. I’m beginning to realize how much I learn about myself and grow while manipulating riddles. While part of my anguish does stem from trying to determine the career that best suits me and will provide an income, even more of it comes from the irritation of not being able to verbalize how my actions over the past few months will catalyze my future. When the world asks, “What do you want to do?” I want to have an extravagant answer with substantiated evidence! (That is the straight A elementary school student in me.) I want to produce an answer that makes the world go, “Ohhh, she is a good studier.” But I think that you are on to something when you say, ” What I want to do is obsolete. What I AM doing is…”

  2. Lindsey

    I think you would make an excellent dancer on Dancing With The Stars! OR We could go on the road as a karaoke duo, although I don’t think people want to hear us, but I think we sound AWESOME! Go Reba.

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