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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.


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. Wouldn't that be something.

©2019 Anya Ivy

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