Work

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Some people are meant to do one job. Some people find a career that brings meaning to their life.

I am not one of those people. At least, I hope I’m not, because I sure haven’t found that job.

I have been an English teacher, in the United States and abroad. I have worked in retail. I have worked for non-profits. I have been a dog walker, a sign placer, and a telephone interviewer. I have earned income writing, blogging, and proofreading. I have served coffee and food. I have a Master’s degree. I have worked at McDonald’s.

None of these things has brought meaning to my life. I loved what I studied in grad school and I’m glad I’ve lived abroad … but I’m not An English Teacher or a Writer or Anything Else.

I’ve lived and worked in countries with tremendous unemployment. Countries where people used to study what their parents or someone else made them, and now work in whatever job they can find. They don’t have the expectation that e a job should bring meaning to your life.

But we feel that in the US. Particularly on the East Coast, your job is your life. It’s almost more excusable to be unemployed than to be working a crappy job. It’s almost unthinkable that a person could look for happiness outside of work, that work is really just something to earn money.

I can recognize this, and I even think it’s unhealthy. I know it’s okay that I am not my job. But it’s still hard. I sometimes – often – cringe when I have to tell people, yes, I came here for grad school, I actually came here instead of New York because my university offered me a 2/3 scholarship, and I have this job that is completely unrelated to my degree.

I know I have choices, and a lot of people in the other countries I have lived in do not. I am fortunate for that. But having choices also makes me feel that if I’m not satisfied with my job, it’s my own fault. It’s something I’ve chosen. And it’s hard to live with that.

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2 responses »

  1. Hmm.. I have been there before- THATS FOR SURE! But then yoga came into my life- i’m now a teacher and studio owner. And now I’ll never have to ‘work’ a day in my life. Let the universe guide you and you’ll find your way ~:)

  2. My first comment ever … thank you 🙂 I appreciate your kind words and sentiment. It is awesome that you have found something that works well for you.

    I guess my feeling is more that it is actually a cultural assumption that a “job” – or whatever we want to call that stuff we do to bring in money to live on, like owning a studio or teaching classes – is the key.

    Maybe lots of us will need to find meaning outside of the job … maybe what matters will not be the same thing that earns us income to live on …I think this idea is more widely accepted in some places outside the US.

    It’s great when what you love, and what the universe has in store for you, does translate into a situation that somehow generates income to live on – I just think it doesn’t work like that for everyone and we shouldn’t feel that we are incomplete, or not listening to the universe, or missing something because of it.

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