It’s a challenging thing, the drudgery of work; not simply the hours of tedium or the necessary evil of doing what we must so that we may do what we wish. It’s a cognitive tap-dance masquerading as a normal life: go to work, do something I don’t want for someone I don’t like, come home, do what I want for 4 hours, then jump to the weekend and eek out what substance I can, drained, demoralized, and frustrated from a week of choices made for us. So how do we reconcile it? How do we make it work for us? A recent personal revelation has lead me to a solution: balance.
115% of all teenagers, young adults, adults, young old-people, medium old-people, and old-old-people will end up working a job they hate at one point or another in their lives. It’s an unfortunate if not ubiquitous fact that to a great degree, our career path chooses us and not the other way around. And I don’t mean that in the good “oh, you were always destined to be a hot doctor” kind of way, I mean it in the “good luck getting a job as a Lego master builder without about eight grand, a personal connection with Alfred Lego’s nephew, or an acute lack of gag reflex” way.
The common response to this way of thinking is, of course, the “you have to pay your dues” speech. Simply work the job you hate and someday you’ll land the job you love (and let me be clear, when I say “love” I mean, you get up in the morning fucking pumped up because of what you do and who you came to be). But that’s simply not true 100% of the time either. Most of us will end up in jobs we tolerate or that we enjoy simply because the pay justifies that new waffle iron we’ve had our eye on. The corporate world is unforgiving and frankly, doesn’t give a shit about our dreams and aspirations.
So the picture we’ve got in front of ourselves is a bleak one. We’re not children anymore, we’ve all done things we didn’t enjoy and we’re all going to have to do some things we won’t like. But being a fighter, my natural question at this crossroads is “what can I do about it?” After 25 full years of contemplation I believe I have the answer:
Tolerate what you can, change what you must.
You see, we can all tolerate a stint at Chik-Fil-A (“Thank you”, “My pleasure”) because at the end of the day, we need food. We can accept that not everything we do is going to be the most dignifying because, on a very basic level, we need to survive.
But regarding the rest, that other 50% o’ our lives that we 1) can’t stand and 2) have other plans for, we can fucking do something about that! If we don’t like our job, we can browse listings, volunteer at activities that stimulate our passions, and get tips from people in the scene. We can research how to become better at a foreign language and travel to another country. We can spend $50 bucks on a midi keyboard and start making music. These are all changes that we can make that, with a little follow-through, can make this one-off go at life worth living.
Ask yourself, “if I don’t like what I’m doing, then why am I doing it?” If you’ve never asked yourself that question, then the world probably looks a lot like what was described earlier in this post. But if you have and you can’t come up with a good answer (need and survival are good answers) then change, what you, are doing. Make a difference in YOUR life. Don’t make excuses, don’t pander to anyone else. Care enough about yourself to make yourself a priority and for God/Allah/FSM’s sake, live.