I joined a dating site (again) because I’m bored and a masochist, apparently. This morning I had the pleasure of speaking with Drew. Drew asked me a couple questions about the software engineering degree I’m pursuing, whether or not I was at work and who this man is in one of the Instagram pictures on my profile. I had initiated the conversation because he mentioned he was plant based in his profile and vegetarians and vegans love meeting other vegetarians and vegans and talking about it. By the time he asked about the mysterious man in the picture (my brother, btw), he expressed I wasn’t giving him much to work off of when I said it was a weird question to ask who the man is. He said he was grasping at thin air, trying to find something to talk about.
The way I understand how conversations work, one person asks a question or makes a statement, the other responds to you and the conversation builds; dialogue 101. Drew, however, asked me random questions that didn’t relate to each other and thus the conversation did not flow and it was difficult to build any deeper conversation. It was more like a job interview than an actual conversation. Still, I thought it was going fine until he really lost his cool with the brother question. At that point he called me a “minimum wage loser” for working at Whole Foods (WF) and staying in bed till 10:30 AM on my day off.
It goes without saying that Drew is in fact, an ass hole. I do not understand this idea that your value as a person is wrapped up entirely by what you do for money. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately as I continue to go deeper into the software engineering program and work more at WF.
I have had a lot of jobs since I started working when I was 16. Since I graduated from college 8 years ago, I have had 6 different jobs. I have been an account manager, a paralegal assistant, an office assistant, customer service representative, a dishwasher and a cook (to be fair the last 2 have been at the same company). I have hated all of those office jobs for various reasons. I hated dealing with the 9 – 5 traffic, I hated sitting at a desk, I hated staring at a screen all day, I hated that I was completely and totally bored by these jobs and what I hated most was that I felt like I was wasting my life away and wasting my intellect on things I felt completely disconnected from. Everything about these jobs was designed to increase profit and that is what I chased at every one of them and I hated it.
Of course, I understand that a business needs to make a profit to function. However, my job at WF is to make food. It needs to taste good and look good so people will buy it but the goal of the profit is more or less removed from the actual practice of my day to day life. I can talk to cool people all day, or listen to music and get lost in my own thoughts. My best ideas for poems and stories and art come when I’m at work and can let my mind wander.
Drew made a lot of assumptions about me, based on his insecurities about himself. He thinks I’m a loser and unmotivated to better myself because I work in the service industry. To Drew, people who work service jobs aren’t smart enough or work hard enough to “make it” in more glamours fields. It didn’t occur to him, that I chose to work at a grocery store and it wasn’t because it was the only job I could get. It didn’t matter to him, that I had tried his lifestyle for many years and every time it made me completely miserable. I gained weight at these jobs and had anxiety dreams almost every night about being late to work. Some weekends I couldn’t even relax because I was too anxious about Monday. I would take a vacation and still be expected to be available if someone needed something in the office. I was never in charge of my time, at these jobs.
I’ve been struggling with whether or not I want to continue with software engineering because I know it’s going to put me back at a desk, surrounded by more Drew’s. I know I’m going to be so mentally exhausted, that I won’t paint or write. Since I started at WF, I created this blog and made active efforts to maintain it, I’m doing more art, I’m more social and engaged with the world, I’ve lost 20 lbs and have started working on other bigger projects. I’m networking with more people who inspire me with my projects and set my mind ablaze. These are huge positive changes.
I’m scared, however. I’m scared of people like Drew who think I don’t have any value because I work at a grocery store. I’m scared of disappointing my inner circle that thinks I’m destined for great things and my grandma who wants me to be an executive because, in her time, women didn’t do that. Drew is scared too because Drew is unhappy and insecure about his own life. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have felt the need to degrade a stranger on a dating app for no reason. He wouldn’t need to judge people’s income if he truly felt secure in his own. I’m sure Drew’s life seems excellent on the outside but he’s deeply unfulfilled and that’s what happens when you work a job that doesn’t have any value to you. The difference between me and Drew, however, is that I am finding the courage to jump over that fear and be in a place that allows me to pursue the things that make me excited about the world.
I don’t know what I’ll do with my education. It’s interesting to me and I can certainly become a freelance programmer as a side hustle if I felt so inclined to do so. What I do know, is that I haven’t felt this free in a very long time. Is my job perfect? no. Are there days I do kind of hate it? Of course. Does the good outweigh those days though? Absolutely. Drew will always be unhappy because Drew is living a life he doesn’t actually want, even if he can’t admit it to himself. I may never have the executive career my grandma wants for me and it’s very possible I will disappoint my entire family by building a career at a grocery store but what they don’t understand is that maybe then, I’ll be able to fly.