having a REAL job

I’ve had a lot of jobs since I entered the workforce when I was 16. I’ve worked everything from fast food to evictions, to tech support. I struggle immensely with working and I’m sure I’m not alone. It isn’t that I don’t like to work, it’s that I feel like every job I have is a waste of my time and intellect.

I know it’s a millennial thing to want meaning in your work and I realize that we can’t all have really cool jobs that are deeply meaningful. That’s not to say, of course, that what I find meaningless is equally meaningless to someone else. I just can’t stand the idea of spending 40 hours a week, roughly a quarter of my time doing something that doesn’t matter. When I worked in the call center, I recall sitting there asking myself am I going to just sit here at this desk, getting yelled at by people who don’t know what a power button is, for the rest of my life? I don’t know how anyone can stand it and I truly give people in call centers mad props for dealing with the psychosis of the general public.

Maybe it doesn’t bode well for me, that I’ve only held 2 jobs, longer than a year since I graduated college. My first big girl job out of college was doing evictions at a property management company. As you can imagine, the work was rather unpleasant. No one wants to tell someone they have to get out of their house. It’s the only job I ever been fired from and in retrospect, I wasn’t a very good employee. I made an effort but I was young, inexperienced and under qualified. I worked there for about 3 years.

Then, the next significant position I held, for 2 years, was a call center doing tech support for cable TV. This is the 2nd worst job I’ve ever had (next to McDonald’s). I was well on my way to gaining a position in leadership but ultimately, I couldn’t wrap my head around that being my life. I once decided to follow money over passion and I’ve regretted it ever since. Was I going to stay doing work that was deeply unsatisfying just because it paid well?

So I quit. I was living in Florida then and decided to move back in with my dad (because I’m a millennial) and go back to school. I’m oversimplifying for the sake of not boring you to tears. I should note, it’s significantly easier for me to uproot my life when I find it’s not working for me; I don’t have any kids, I’m unmarried, I don’t have any assets like a house, that I have to consider. I do have credit card debt and student loan debts which to be honest, that’s a post in and of itself and I’m not going to spend any time with that. The point is, I’ve chosen to build my life in a manner that allows me the freedom to figure out what’s going to be satisfying.

I decided to go back to school. Since I have the aforementioned student loan debt, I opted to not take on more debt, and pay for school out of pocket (hence living with my dad). It occurred to me, I was more or less reaching the end of my skills. I knew customer service really well but other than making a movie (what my B.A. is in) or talking about books, I lacked any meaningful skills that would allow me to break out of the customer service mumbo jumbo. Why not get new skills, then? I opted for a job that has a relatively high turn over and something that won’t be dramatic when I do find a position my aligned with my long-term goals. I work at Whole Foods.

Now, I opted for a place that I don’t really have to invest in. I care about my job and make efforts to be good at it, but ultimately, I know this is just a stepping stone. My family does not understand why I opted for a $15/hr position at a grocery store when I can easily do any number of real jobs that pay significantly less and have more stress.

That’s what my dad said to me today when I mentioned I don’t normally work 5 days in a row and that I was tired. What are you going to do when you get a real job? was the response I was met with. As if I don’t already have a job. My family is always telling me about such and such place and I can’t justify working somewhere that isn’t going to matter to me, once I’m done with round 2 of school. Like I can’t justify allowing a company to invest me when I’m not going to invest in them unless it’s something I really want to do. They don’t seem to understand, I’m in a transition phase of life.

The reality is, not everyone can work their dream job. I’m probably not going to be an actor and maybe I’ll get paid to write one day but writers aren’t known for being millionaires. Does that mean I’m going to stop trying to get my dream job? Of course not, but we still need people to work at grocery stores or pick up trash or any number of jobs in the service industry and I don’t think it’s healthy to look down on these people or act like they don’t have a real job.

Those are my thoughts for today. Until tomorrow, friends!


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