So What Do You Do?
SO WHAT DO YOU DO?
The Confliction of Answering
the Ultimate Post Grad Question
BY SARA KERNAN
“So what do you do?”
A question so simple shouldn’t evoke tears or a feelings of nausea, but at this season in my life, I near both.
In the 75 days of my description-less state (post graduation from college), I have yet to find a response that feels comfortable. I stumble over my own words when I try to answer and finish feeling embarrassed and small.
“Oh, well, I’m kinda in between work right now”
(If you don’t have a prospective job can you really say between work?).
“I actually quit my job. Not in a bad way! I liked it. I just, well, you know, wanted to travel and write…”
(Could I sound any more Millennial?!).
“I hope to try to find some temporary work this fall, but we’ll see what’s available,”
(Pshhh. Like I can find work out here … ).
“And I will probably be moving soon so I’m using this season to prepare myself for the sort of work I want to do”
(But when are you moving? And what work do you really want to do? Do you think you’re actually qualified for that? Okay crazy…).
Each sentence cuts me and the uncomfortable and polite “Oh,” that follows reminds me that I should feel uncomfortable.
We exist in a culture where performance and output is valued above all, and up until 75 days ago, I looked forward to this question with pride.
“Oh I am a full-time college student studying ministry through Moody Distance Learning. I also work part-time as a writer for a local newspaper. After graduation I’ll be traveling to Europe for a few weeks and then later this summer I’m attending a writer’s workshop.”
Not to toot my own horn, but that sounds impressive. You go girl. Do all the things!
Seventy-five days later, I am humbled to realize how much of my identity has been put in what I do instead of whose I am.
Throughout the years, my mom has read to me Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss to mark each season of change. While the mountain top experiences and colorful pages are inspiring, my favorite part is always the description of the waiting place. The waiting place is my favorite because I find myself in the waiting place a lot. The book describes how sometimes you’re between seasons but ultimately, the waiting place does not last forever.
I have found myself in the waiting place before. It’s uncomfortable. It’s excruciating. But this particular waiting place has reminded me that no other identity is more important than my identity in Christ. My focus lately has been so much on what I do and how that validates my worth. I believe that God has me in the waiting place to remind me that setting my eyes on Him is primary, all else is secondary.
I am brought back to Colossians 3:2-3: “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (NIV).
I don’t know exactly what God has planned for my life. When I entered college determined and unstoppable, I was expecting to graduate as a miniature Leslie Knope with a 30-year plan for my life and career. My waiting place has humbled me to remember that what I do with my life are simply manifestations of my focus on things above.
“So what do you do?”
“I love Jesus fiercely and work to serve Him to my greatest capacity.”
While I am sure I will have a more formal response to this question in the future as jobs come and go and stages of life occur, this response should be at the core of all my identity. Once my focus is appropriately placed, my anxiety about get-to-know you questions and my ten-year reunion someday all disappear.
I know whose I am.
PHOTO BY CHAD MADDEN