“What do you do?”

My least favourite question right now is “What do you do?” and it’s variations.  I’m sure many (if not all) unemployed people feel varying degrees of hatred for that phrase.  Obviously there must be something wrong with you and the feeling of unworthiness washes over, not helped by the unintentional judgement that comes from the questioner.  Meaning to or not, the very question itself is the embodiment of societal convention.  “One must perform an activity that contributes to society’s big picture – unless you are not a part of that big picture (possible reasons being you are undesirable because of class, ethnicity, disability, or just bad luck, but the big picture will interpret this as laziness and just being ‘wrong’).”  Also, depending on the individual questioner, there is the implication of “Go on, impress me.”

Being as I am both disabled, and me, those around me have opinions of my unemployment on the spectrum between ‘Well, she is disabled,’ to ‘You have potential, stop being lazy.’  I don’t know what gets to me more because they both make a point, whilst ignoring a big point.  Yes I’m disabled, but I still am a person who wants to enjoy and contribute to life as much as possible.  On the flip side my personhood is recognised but limitations (mine and society’s) are ignored.  And the result is a very mixed up, self-righteous, guilt that leads to chocolate and computer games, and voluntary seclusion to escape the feeling and the question that raises it. 

Advertisements