It's the question I hate the most.
A very sweet and wonderful friend of mine wanted to set me up on a date, which is a huge compliment if not always a successful outcome. While describing myself and what I'm like, the intended date asked what I do.
"I didn't know what to say," she said.
I always find it odd that people seem perplexed at what I do with my time. I get it, but I still find it odd. I get that not having a single, full-time job doesn't necessarily compute in some people's brains. When I get the dreaded "So, what do you do?" question at gatherings (or it's cousin question, "So, what have you been up to?"), I try to summarize my life as easily as I can before the looks of confusion set in. I've failed at that more than a few times.
"I do a lot of different things..." is how I usually begin--the subtext being, I hate this question.
Despite posting regularly on social media and having websites devoted to my work as a photographer, along with this blog, people still seem to have no idea what I do. Again, it's understandable since I have always done more than one thing with my time. If you would have asked me what I do a few years ago, I would have grumbled something about being an actor/waiter/temp/barista. All sorts of non-committal "slashy" jobs. Los Angeles is full of people like this.
I've recently toyed with new words to identify what I do besides simply using the word artist--words like freelancer, creative-type, and content maker. I don't mind these words all that much, but they don't do much by the way of networking. I don't want to perplex people anymore. I'd rather open a conversation, one that doesn't wreak of some hidden agenda to get more clients or an interview with an agent.
A term I heard recently that I like is living the "portfolio life" (linked here for some more info). I like this term because it goes beyond a singular identity, and it's one that many of my early millenial peers seem to be grasping onto more than not. Having lived the life of the struggling actor, the cubicle dweller, and the boomerang kid, it's refreshing to know that other freelancers are out there going through a lot of the same things I am. The portfolio life is less about describing an occupation and more about all the numerous things in my portfolio:
I make beautiful photographs of people and places.
I'm an actor and dancer who has worked in theatre, film, and television.
I have been mentoring teens in the arts for the past 16 years with one of my favorite non-profit arts organizations, Camp Bravo.
I am passionate about living a healthy life and I'm pretty darn good in the kitchen.
There it is. It's a start, but by no means all there is. A few years I took a huge risk in leaving the cubicle, moving out of the zaniness of the city and back to the burbs, and working to create a life that allows all these wonderful things I am passionate about. This website is an ongoing experiment in keeping friends and followers updated on everything I do.
Dating...now that's a different story.