I’ve got to say, I’m a little tired of people advocating for us all to go out and find our dream jobs. Jobs that you wake up excited to go to. Jobs that you sit bolt upright in bed in the middle of the night grinning about at the sheer thought of. Jobs that you would happily pay to do. (Don’t you know that nothing less will do?!)
Surely I can’t be the only one who can’t think of a job that fits this description. No matter how awesome, ultimately a job is a job.
I get disproportionately excited over little things. Dessert. (Heck, almost anything to do with good food). The way the sky looks at sunset. A good hair day. And these bursts of excitement are sharp, yet short. But I don’t actually wake up excited for anything, barring a concert or maybe a trip away somewhere. Least of all, work (although there are days when I can actually gush “I love what I do”). And yet, my job is, more or less, my ideal job. Meanwhile, I freelance ultimately not so much for the love of writing but for the experience and money.
I “followed my passion”. So where is this soul-shaking, ear-to-ear grinning, electrifying feeling? Did I go wrong somewhere along the way? Or…is this increasingly popular concept simply setting the vast majority of us up for disappointment?
I know the mantra goes “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”. I always knew I would work with words; that was what I enjoyed, and what I excelled at. But sometimes, the sheer fact that you are doing what you supposedly love, eventually takes away something from it. (This hasn’t really happened, but I feel sure that this would be the case with any other path. Heck, I fell so out of love with guitar I stopped playing for three years, because I made it too much like work. I got frustrated with my lack of technical progress and lost sight of why I started in the first place).
Would I be happier doing something else on a day-to-day basis? No. And nobody would pay me for any of my hobbies either, be it amateurish baking or photography or travel. Sure, I could try to turn any one of those things into a job too, but why would I? That would suck the simple pleasure out of it. For example, I don’t want to rebrand myself as a travel writer; the places I want to go are, honestly, places other people have been to millions of times before and written about. Also, I wish to enjoy my travels, not spend time thinking about story angles and making pitch after pitch. And becoming a location-independent nomad isn’t a lifestyle I want to pursue.
It’s a little depressing when I talk to harried colleagues who are looking desperately forward to their next holiday (“As long as I’m not here!”). I’m not at that stage, THANKFULLY, and pray I never will be: but honestly, if I could choose to come into work only when I felt like it, you can bet I wouldn’t be there five days a week.
I’ve said plenty of times that I can’t imagine what people do in retirement. I mainly said those things while I was a stretched-thin student with no time for myself. No time to rediscover doing things just for me, just for the sake of enjoyment. Going to a 40-hour work week has enabled me to live a much more balanced, healthy and sane life. I do get professional satisfaction through my work, but equally (and perhaps more importantly) I get personal satisfaction through the interests and relationships I devote my spare time to.
I never thought I’d say this, but I think I could happily live the life of a lady of leisure, if such a lifestyle could be funded. I have so many books to read. Songs to learn. Movies to watch. Recipes to try. Places and friends to visit. I might work or volunteer a couple of days a week, and that would be enough for me. Doing exactly what I want, when I want. I don’t believe that’s in any job description, though 😉
I may have veered a bit off topic here but I think you get the point I’m trying to make. Enjoying my work is important, but I know I’m not the only one who thinks that loving your job wholeheartedly is a bit of a myth. (And for those who might see fit to chime in with “why don’t you work for yourself instead?” I will point you here courtesy of Paranoid Asteroid.) I also value a job that I can mostly leave behind when I leave the office, stability, decent pay, low stress levels, autonomy and regular working hours. And if you’re one of the people like T, who hasn’t “found their passion” and have read Barbara Sher, you’ll be familiar with the concept of the “good enough” job, which pays well, doesn’t demand too much of you and allows you to pursue your interests in your spare time. And there is nothing wrong with that, either.
No doubt there are plenty of people out there who loathe their work, and are stuck for one reason or another. I just wish the propaganda machine would tone down the selling of a somewhat unrealistic myth – Gen Y rhetoric, IMO, overstates expectations of the “perfect” job, which I find hard to swallow. (Don’t we already face enough pressures to create the ultimate existence – great friends, great love life, great sex life, great body, etc?) By all means, PURSUE THE DREAM, but don’t feel like a failure if it doesn’t actually have you leaping out of bed in the mornings and screaming from the rooftops every day.