One of my pet peeves is when I am at an event and someone asks me what I “do”. It drives me nuts, as if the only thing defining who I am is what activity I engage in which enables me to keep a roof over my head and pay bills. It’s not like I am ashamed of what I do for a living. In fact it’s quite the contrary. But I don’t like throwing around the fact that I am a physician because it sets up erroneous preconceived notions about my personality, lifestyle, and income. It is only after I have been speaking to someone for a while and have been given an opportunity to mention fitness that I come alive and truly enjoy the conversation. I do NOT enjoy talking about my medical career. People do not seem to understand that not every physician works in a hospital, works full time, makes oodles of money, and enjoys talking about medicine 24/7.
Another thing I cannot stand about revealing my main career is that people seem to think nothing of asking for a curbside consult. Let’s say you are a certified public accountant. Would it bother you if I asked you a couple of tax questions just to make sure I am filing my tax receipts properly? Oh, it WOULD bother you? Well, I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t ask me to look at your sore elbow, or the rash on your left cheek (sometimes it’s even the nether cheek which is affected…NO, I don’t want to see it!), or your inflamed adenoids. When I am at an event, I am OFF DUTY, just like you are. So please don’t ask.
I know that some people love talking about what they do. If it stems from a true passion for what they do, that’s fantastic. However, there are plenty of situations in which I find myself conversing with someone who thinks that social conventions require everyone to discuss what they do for a living, no matter how unfulfilling or uninteresting the discussion is. I would honestly rather find out something interesting about a person, such as an unusual hobby, than to hear someone describe a work environment which holds zero interest for me.
I wish conversations were more heavily weighted towards truly learning about what makes a person tick instead of sizing someone up on the basis of how they make a living!