A few months ago, I was at a bar and someone asked me what I did for a living. When I told her, she responded flatly, “that’s so lame.”
I hadn’t even finished my first drink.
So I’m like, wtf?! Did I miss the part where someone asked for your opinion on how I pay my bills?! (Full disclosure: I said all of this in my head, not out loud. Ugh, I know).
She went on to explain that she was a military physician and was disgusted by plastic surgeons and cosmetic dermatologists who “profit off people with low self-esteem.”
I told her that Larry was also prior military and has dedicated his post-Army career to helping women regain their bodies after pregnancy.
She seemed less judgy. But not by much.
In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t been so defensive.
I find that question to be so limiting anyway. “What do you do?” I realize it’s the thing that most people feel defines them, but I almost never ask it when I’m meeting someone for the first time. I much prefer, “what’s your story?”
I know. It’s totally awkward, but hear me out. If someone asked you this, you might mention your job. But you might not. It’s a much more open-ended question. Maybe you’re a yo-yo national champion/tax accountant.
You can learn so much more about someone by asking them basically anything other than what they do (except, of course, if you’re me and your job is interesting AF).
Once, a girl told me she had been destitute just months before and started working at a “massage parlor” in order to dig herself out of financial ruin. I met a guy who quit his million-dollar sales job in the Bay Area to move to Hawaii and start his own business selling stuff online. The woman at the helm of one of the most profitable companies in Hawaii actually used to be a stripper.
I am constantly amazed by the power of human connection. I have nothing in common with these people…I know nothing of the seedy underbelly of massage parlors, strip clubs, and illegal sex work. I don’t know what it’s like to leave a million-dollar job on the table. But I connected with these people on this strange yet special level. I was enamored by their lives and I drank in every sordid and juicy detail.
People are surprising when you look past where they go from 9-5 Monday through Friday. Maybe you’ve met a minimalist, or an extreme coupon clipper, or the world’s fastest oyster shucker and didn’t even know it. How disappointing would that be? I’d totally have like 47 follow-up questions if someone told me they were an extreme coupon clipper.
So. What’s your story??