'What Do You Want To Do In Life?'
Politics and Activism

'What Do You Want To Do In Life?'

The most commonly misinterpreted question.


It's one of the first questions we're asked when we are of college age — "what do you want to do." Or "what do you want to do with your life." It's a simple question, usually asked after we discuss our major. The answer is along the lines of "I want to be a doctor." Or "I want to go into advertising." People want to know what type of career field we intend to go into- it's a tacit agreement that that's what the question means. What do you want to do? I want to be a doctor. Simple.

If I want to know what career field you intend on entering, I ask "what do you want to do career-wise." It seems like a very slight nuance, but to me, the questions are totally different. Often, I won't ask the question "what do you want to do," because I'm nervous my audience will just give me their career path, so I simply don't ask the real question.

Someone recently asked me the question "where have you been in life?" Which later in the conversation was followed with "what are you looking forward to? What is on your horizon, Jordyn?" So if your answer to what you want to do is "doctor," I hear how those questions could sound a little odd. But nonetheless, you would answer them with something tangible.

When I was asked these questions, the asker was looking for a different kind of answer. So I answered where I had been in life — spiritually, emotionally, intrinsically — not physically. I told a story of how I came to find myself spiritually, while I could have just told a story of the time I went to Costa Rica. And for what I look forward to on my horizon? I could have said spending the summer in Israel or finishing finals, but I said being happy, because being happy is what I plan for my horizon, and to me that is the most important answer I could give.

When I ask you what you want to do, and you answer your job prospects, I can't help but be a little disappointed. It is such a general question and most people's immediate go to is something physical and tangible, like a career. It's not an individual's fault that's what their mind assumes is the answer, it's just how we've been conditioned. But once in a while, I get the kind of answer I'm truly looking for. It's from the person who thinks to ask questions like, "where have you been?" And that person is my favorite kind.

What do I want to do? Make people think. Laugh. Improve the world in some way. Be happy. Raise children I can be proud of. Make myself into a person I'm proud of. Stand up for what is important. The answers are endless- And yeah, my career aspirations come at the end of that list, but mostly because they are a means to an end.

The physical stuff is important. I definitely don't think we should forget about all of it. I'm happy to answer a question about something tangible in my life like what job I want and I'm equally happy to ask the question, but it's important to see that if the question isn't specifically asking for that answer, then that answer isn't all encompassing or sufficient. We are so much more than anything physical or tangible. If the only thing you ever aspire to be or do is a job, then sorry, you're not doing life correctly.

So next time someone asks you that question, give them an answer they aren't expecting. Make them specifically ask about your career and instead offer up something personal that you aspire to. Talk about your passions. Tell them about the type of footprint you want to leave in the soil of the earth. Tell them what you want to DO — not what job you want to do.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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