I’ve talked before about how I don’t like the way we define what people do or ‘who’ people are by the way they acquire money. But it’s really hard, when meeting someone new not to jump straight in and ask them about their job/what they do for a living etc. It’s just what happens because it tells us enough about them to give us more prompts to continue the conversation.
I always catch myself asking others this question, but I myself hate being asked because I never know what to say. I do all sorts of things in order to buy a living with my time, but none of it is particularly interesting or in itself defining of me as a person. And you expect a noun too (like I am a Doctor, a Teacher, a Musician, a Banker, an Insurance Salesman, a Delivery Driver etc).
A while ago rather than asking ‘what do I do for a living’, ‘what is my job’, or ‘what kind of work am I in’, someone asked ‘what is your main occupation?’
I like this. It is so open-ended and is probing, albeit subtly for a specifically personal and unique response.
What is your main occupation?
This is not just physical either.
What occupies you?
This is a question or notion we use in a sense for our thinking. Our mind is pre-occupied or completely occupied with thoughts. When we are stressed or excited we get pre-occupied in our mind.
When we are at work, if we are doing a job for which we have no passion, a job to pay the bills then that is most likely not our main occupation. Our mind will be elsewhere and as soon as we leave the building we turn fully to our real, main occupation, whatever that may be.
My main occupation is thinking of ways to communicate, of writing, of music and of creativity. Whatever I am doing, this is always there, occupying my mind.
Now our job may well be our main occupation and for many people it is, but I realised, through being asked this question I was much happier to answer because I knew what I could say and was delighted to talk about it.
It requires a paradigm shift from our pre-occupation AS A SOCIETY with money, how people earn and the supposed intrinsic relationship between that and our identity as people. And move it to what we’re passionate about, what we enjoy doing, what we think about.
Our occupation has nothing to do with how we earn money; our occupation can BE money. If money is all we think about then MONEY is our occupation, not the job we do to get it, but the money itself.
Our occupation is what keeps us ticking. Some of us might not even consciously know what our occupation IS, and it may require a little bit of time working it out. Many of us might have really unhealthy and destructive occupations and some might want to actively change our occupation. But whatever it is we ALL have occupations and we like to talk about them.