What Do You ‘Do’?

I’m always asked, “What do you do?” from everyone who meets me for the first time. It seems like such a common question, but one I always feel spiraling anxiety upon hearing.

It forces me to respond in ways I may or may not be prepared for. I’m cornered to give an answer fitting for the moment. That question always brings up protective or guarded feelings; and although I’m trying to work past that, I don’t get much time to since it’s so common for people we meet to ask; it’s absolutely unavoidable.

I wear different hats. Some days I’m a caretaker to my grandma who has doctor’s visits twice a week, so we’re in and out of hospitals conversing with everyone there. Some days, I’m a writer attending book club meetings and gaining inspiration. Some days, I’m a traveler just trying to make tasteful conversation on the journey.

I’m a producer of film and photographic art; a dedicated family member; a religious practitioner; a volunteer. I mean, the list could go on and on. Nevertheless, I’m recognized, publicly as a porn actress. So it’s pretty fucking complicated.

The dilemma with my responses is making the choice to tell the outright truth, to water them down, sugar-coat them or both. It’s such a sensitive term to slam onto the table when you reveal: I’m a porn actress, Yup! I get glammed up and point the camera towards my naked body, then sell the footage online for all to see!” If that’s not coming on strong I don’t know what is.

So I have different back pocket explanations for different groups of people I associate with. If a Lyft driver and I are connecting and he or she asks ‘The Question’, I have a few guns in my back pocket. If someone from a religious group asks I have an answer ready for them as well. The same goes for family events, mainstream film associates, and other seemingly conservative counterparts.

One of my favorite capes to wear when someone asks “What do you do for a living?” is the response, “I’m in media marking”. On Monster, someone who specializes in media marketing: Combines marketing and social media management skills to architect and enhance company social media presences, including interacting with customers, promoting brand-focused interactive and engaging content, and expanding opportunities for revenue.  I think that pretty much sums up a lot. I can sprinkle fairy dust all over that job description in conversation.

I didn’t write this as a salute for lying or being fake toward everyone you meet. This diary entry is about my experience with having to protect myself and stay cautious since I’ve chosen this life path. It’s also understanding of the power of first impressions, coming from a girl like me, and how much they mean to me. What you say you do, may not reflect what you actually spend most of your time doing.

When I learned chess as a young girl, the one thing I remembered most about the strategy of the game was being able to withhold information and consider your opponent’s intentions. It’s my reasoning behind the hesitation to reveal too much of myself so freely. I like to think I’ll have the upper hand. It also helps me learn more about the other person, by listening.

I’m always seeking new ways to grow and become more aligned with my heart purpose. Maybe one day, I won’t have such a hard time picking through my file cabinet of answers to the question of ‘what my career is’. I’ll shine in certainty, having earned the right to simply respond with my name. Wouldnt that be something.

2 comments

  1. James · 24 Days Ago

    Just make your name as commonly known like Cher, Maddona or Halle Berry

    Liked by 1 person

  2. michaeljlando · 21 Days Ago

    Sorry for the long reply, but I love this post! I hope people appreciate the level of emotional and intellectual depth in your storytelling/self-analysis. All of your posts are excellent reads, but this one captures the complexity of identity, fame, and womanhood, better than any 400-page biography I’ve read recently.

    You wrote, “I didn’t write this as a salute for lying or being fake toward everyone you meet.” What you do is more common than people than people care to admit. You conceal your professional identity for your security and social well-being; I can’t think of a more valid reason than yours. People alter their professional identity all the time for far less significant reasons than yours. As someone who interviews people on a weekly basis, I can promise you, everyone isolates something specific about what they do for a living from their actual held job titles. Most people do it unconsciously, you’re just more strategic (for valid reasons), and your chess analogy sums it best when you say you have to “consider your opponent’s intentions.”

    There are so many professions that allow people to keep their careers concealed and no one thinks of them of as “lying” or “being fake,” such as writers with pseudonyms, CIA officers, nuclear scientists, or a high-profile personality checking into a hotel, etc. Hell, most people assume a different identity the moment they log onto social media sites like Twitter and Instagram to create a brand for themselves. They give a version of themselves that are designed to only show only what they want you to see. So don’t feel bad, you have legit reasons. You deserve to have the same level of anonymity as any other professional.

    I just read an article on the “The Construction of Professional Identity.” When you said “I’m always seeking new ways to grow and become more aligned with my heart purpose,” it made me think of this passage…

    “Trying to balance the demands of seemingly competing role identities can be psychologically and physically draining for individuals (Greenhaus and Beutell, 1985). In order to avoid feeling potentially overwhelmed, many individuals often gravitate towards simplifying their professional identity structure either by focusing on the intersection of their professional roles or by allowing one role to dominate their professional identity… (Caza, 2016).

    Liked by 1 person

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