Tuesday, February 15, 2011

there comes a time to invest in your day job

By most measures, I have a great job. I'm in a growth industry. There is actual substance to it. I've accumulated years of experience; were I to buckle down and get some certifications, I could move up in the ranks, go full time, and eventually work anywhere I spoke the language. Relative to the options most of my (other) useless-associates-degree-or-less educated friends have available to them, it's also remarkably respectable; my job title says "educated and not a deadbeat" in a way that "industrial, retail, or agricultural worker," sadly, doesn't.

I read once about how this idea that we should seek fulfillment and satisfaction from the same thing that pays our rent can be crippling. At the time I was skeptical, but I'm starting to see the wisdom. Because this is my main complaint: I don't love this work. There are other downsides--most of my work challenges involve surmounting other people's easily preventable disorganization and miss-communication. It's hard sometimes to invest myself, because there's a certain meaninglessness to pulling your own weight in a system where the work you do isn't necessarily useful and the status "working poor" is increasingly standard.

But the main thing is that I don't want the life of a systems administrator. There's other work that I do love, and that I'm good at--writing, tutoring, maybe someday teaching. Maybe someday making documentaries. Maybe, someday, making community programs. I know what I want; the challenge is thriving in a system which works only to maximize profit and production, rather than (for instance) happy, virtuous, or connected human lives. And right now, what that comes down to is getting better at the things I don't love--the things that pay for everything else. I have a job that gives me the privilege of reading a lot and writing a lot, by giving me enough of my own time to do so. It gives me the privilege of going to city council meetings, ethics forums, protests. I have time to build relationships with people I can learn from, teach, care about--and time to figure myself out.

So it's time to get better at this job I sometimes hate. Maybe it will give me a better shot at all the things I love.

1 comment:

misssrobin said...

It is such a miserable system we live in. It is so easy to become trapped in a job that is unfulfilling but meets other needs too well to move on.

I like the way you noticed the things it does allow you. I hope that helps a little bit at least.

And best wishes that the opportunity comes along to change directions to something that is more true to your heart.