This topic has been on my mind for awhile. I can list a handful of people who have heard an earful of this already. (Thank you, handful of lovely people who I love.)
“Your job is stupid” isn’t something you hear…to your face. But you feel it with a person’s looks, her nonverbal response and if you’re lucky, a sugar-coated version of it. It usually sounds something like this, “Oh…that’s…cool….*awkwardly*”
When I was a kid, I went through life thinking that I had a few options for a career. Everything else beyond these choices amounted to nothing. I had to choose.
That was it. Everything else didn’t count; it wasn’t realistic or sustainable. These five options.
Then I got to college, I got to spread my wings a little bit more and doors that I didn’t know existed started to open. But then I got tunnel vision, again. Because my school, my peers and my parents brainwashed me into thinking that I’m supposed to get a full-time, well-paying job after college. Something sustainable. Something “respectable.” That’s the next step. And I internalized it. I became that kid again, and I thought to myself, “I have to get a full-time job after college …or I’m a lazy piece of shit.” It’s sounds a little harsh, but we were all probably thinking it. Especially if you go to a competitive school. Especially if your peers who are getting jobs before they graduate.
I felt pretty shitty. I was one of those grads that didn’t have a job immediately after college. It wasn’t that I wasn’t applying. It wasn’t that I wasn’t getting interviews. I wasn’t getting hired – and that feels pretty shitty. It doesn’t soften the blow when a recruiter says “You’re impressive…but we decided to go with another candidate.”
So, I kept applying, worked for my parents and traveled in between. Then I took a job that I didn’t love because I felt the pressure of not having one. Then I quit that job, and then I took a job that I liked more but might sound less “respectable.” It was a barista job. I made coffee and I served coffee. I cleaned dishes and I counted the till. I collected tips, and did the occasional hair flip for more tips. And I learned so much at this job. Beyond coffee history, the science of espresso, and Square troubleshooting- I learned about people. The people behind the bar, the people in front of the bar, the people outside of the coffee bar. Arguably, I learned more about the art of communicating, service and team work than any of my other internships, combined.
Most importantly, I learned that no one’s job is stupid. Leaving my job, I have so much respect for everyone in the service industry (and any industry). Where we are in life – as long as you’re moving forward, and you kind of like what you do – what else is there? Maybe [health] benefits…I hear those are cool. But people have a sense of entitlement. That we are supposed to have great jobs because we have a 4 year degree, or we put in our time with multiple internships, or we know someone who knows someone.
We’re not guaranteed anything in this life, and that includes a furthering education and a job. Those are privileges and by-products of continuing hard work…and possible trial-and-error.
If you’re at a job that you love, congratulations. Continue to learn and grow, put in the work, remember to be thankful and don’t forget to share.
If you’re at a job you hate, make moves. I don’t regret for a second for leaving my job as a fresh grad, 4 months into it. Trust your gut, it’s usually right. Remember to move forward, fight for what you want and that it’s okay to try new jobs (whether or not it’s “respectable,” because re: no one’s job is stupid).