This is one of the responses I got when I asked you guys for writing prompts: In what ways has your life turned out differently than you thought it would when you were growing up? This post is part 3 of a five-part series in which I answer this question.
When I was in school, all arrows seemed to point toward landing the right career.
You got good grades in high school so you could go to college so you could go to grad school so you could start your career. No one really talked about what would happen after or alongside that, which I took to mean that the right job must be the final step in ultimate life fulfillment; school was just what you had to endure in order to get there.
Overall, here’s how I felt about being in school: it was fine, some of it was interesting, some of it wasn’t, I worked hard but not too hard, I liked my friends, I didn’t like waking up early.
Overall, here’s how I feel about my job: it’s fine, some of it is interesting, some of it isn’t, I work hard but not too hard, I like my clients, I don’t like waking up early.
As a student, I was always far more interested in what was happening in my life outside of school: who I was becoming friends with, who I had a crush on, what I was doing on weekends, what books I was reading.
As an adult, I’m usually most interested in what’s happening outside of work: where I’m traveling next, what I’m writing, plans with family and friends, or just looking forward to another quiet evening with Doug, the cats, and my Kindle.
In high school and college, I spent summers working part-time as a waitress. I’d serve lunch to tables full of business people dressed in ties and blazers and feel immensely jealous. As I walked around refilling their waters, all I could think was “I cannot wait until I have a real job.”
Now that I have a “real” job, I sometimes wear blazers and I sometimes go out to lunch. And as servers refill my water, what I’m usually thinking is this: “It would be so nice to be a young waitress again—heading home at two o’clock each day with a wad of cash in my pocket, a to-go cup of mango iced tea in hand, and the rest of the day sprawling out ahead of me—mine to spend however I please.”
I now understand that jobs are what adults do to survive—not, in most cases, a means to ultimate fulfillment. No matter how enjoyable my career may or may not be at different stages, working is always just going to be one part of my life, the same way school was: the daytime, weekday part.
I think I’m with you – the ‘part of life’ thing. Jobs can be just jobs – but those folks (IMO) are in the end not very happy people. On Monday, they just start looking for how fast can Friday night (or Thursday if you are a real party animal) come, or perhaps the next vacation (3 weeks a year, 3 weeks a year….).
Keep in mind, I’m looking back at things from 62 (not 32), but here’s my take.
A job (in this country anyway) is the first chance to find your passion. The fit may not be there, but it certainly gives the financial means to get to your passion (in your case? Pretty sure it ain’t ‘shrinking’ rather ‘writing’). Most happy people I know either find their passion in their job or they leverage their job to find and fund their passion.
In my case, it was 22 years of school and working for The Man in order to afford my passion (my own business on my own time).
But along the way, I discovered that with my passion came another part: family. Starts with a successful marriage that grows over time. Usually children part of that – watching them tear your hair out, introducing them to as much of life as possible before they throw you out.
Then finding that they want you back in their 20’s! And yep, eventually grandchildren to continue the cycle.
Still love my passion, but intertwined is a happy marriage, happy kids, and now happy grandchildren to dote on. And at my age, spending more and more time on the marriage/kids/gkids so hard to separate anymore.
If you think the job is just a means to an end, then I do agree with you….
Sorry for the mini essay, but you got me thinking 🙂
Loved it 😊
Sent from my iPhone. Please excuse editing and brevity.