Job and Ego. Or Pride? And Shame?


I am a dog walker. Sometimes people look down on dog walking as a job. Like it’s beneath them. Or beneath me, which I suppose is sort of intended as a compliment. I was once calling references for a new potential dog walker, and to, “What would the candidate find most challenging about this position?”, the man said, “You’d have to be mentally handicapped to find anything about dog walking challenging”.

What a charmer. And what a reference! (She got the job and was in fact fantastic).

People in the US like to talk about following your bliss and all that, but in reality this is a VERY status-conscious society. It’s hard to have a job that other people look down on. In a sense it helps to say or believe “I’m just doing this for now, of course I’m looking for something better” – but I don’t want to have to believe that. My whole life I’ve been looking for something better. I want to be satisfied and happy where I am right now, without feeling ashamed of it.

I am trying to realize that a person’s response to my job tells me a lot more about them than it does about me.

I have succeeded in earning a(n) (albeit minimal) living doing this job – which is actually difficult to do.

It takes time to build up clients, decent customer service skills, and meticulous schedule-keeping. I navigate around the city by car, on foot, and/or by bike on a tight schedule successfully every day. I don’t have real days off! I haven’t taken a sick day in more than a year. I worked through the midwest’s polar vortex and will work through the summer, spending 6-8 hours a day mostly outside, mostly active, in 90-100 degree weather.
Sometimes people talk about dog walking at the other extreme: how great would it be to give up my pesky office job and go have fun all day?! From doing this job, of course I know it also comes with a lot of very real responsibilities and challenges.
I think sometimes people who look at the job from these extreme perspectives – both as a “stupid person job” and conversely as a dream job – often actually feel threatened by it. They are in an office doing “real” work, and I seem to have given up all that strife to follow my heart or whatever. Of course *I* know it’s not that simple, but the extreme thinkers have probably not given it that much thought. Do they assume I am thinking towards them, “I could set my own destiny, why can’t YOU?” Quite possibly. That wouldn’t feel good either.
I’m not thinking that. As much as I’d like to say I’m in this job due to careful consideration and long-term dedication…. sure, those things matter, but lots of it has been chance, selecting the best options open to me at a given time, and plain old inaction on other fronts. Perhaps this inaction could be phrased positively as acceptance of this job. I’m not complaining. But it’s rare that anyone’s job is purely a product of single-pointed dedication. Most of us are helped along or held back by a number of factors.

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